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The ABCs of Aspirin Therapy for People with Diabetes

The American Diabetes Association has recently concluded that low-dose aspirin therapy may help patients with diabetes prevent future heart problems. We talked with Kenneth J. Snow, M.D., Acting Chief, Adult Diabetes, Joslin Diabetes Center, to get the ABCs of aspirin therapy.

Who should consider aspirin therapy?

Anybody with diabetes over the age of 35 who is not taking an anticoagulant (medicine to prevent blood clotting) or has a contraindication to aspirin.

Is there anyone cannot take aspirin therapy?

People who take an anticoagulant or with a contraindication - such as history of a bleeding disorder, recent retinal hemorrhage or hemorrhagic stroke. 

There are many different kinds of aspirin. Is any certain kind of aspirin better?

Enteric is a little easier on the stomach but most folks tolerate regular old aspirin just fine. 

How much aspirin is recommended?  

There is not agreement on the optimal dose – baby (81), 1/2 or a full (325gm) aspirin.  Folks with diabetes are at greater risk of heart attack, so if someone with diabetes can tolerate the 325gm, then they should go with that.

Have studies proven this is effective and safe over a long time?

Yes!  Aspirin has been shown to be very effective at preventing serious vascular events such as a heart attack or stroke.  We know that folks with diabetes are at much higher risk for these types of events, so people with diabetes should definitely consider this therapy.  For those who do not have a problem with bleeding, aspirin has been shown to be quite safe as well. 

If someone is interested in aspirin therapy, what should do they do?

Definitely double check with their health care provider before starting to make sure they are not missing a problem.

Page last updated: February 23, 2017