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The Washington Post: Aspirin Lowers Risk After a Heart Attack or Stroke. Most Don’t Use It.

The Washington Post and HuffPost recently interviewed Martha Gulati, MD, director of Preventive Cardiology in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai, about two heart-related health topics.

In response to a study finding that aspirin is underused in preventing a second heart attack or stroke, Gulati, who holds the Anita Dann Friedman Chair in Women's Cardiovascular Medicine and Research at Cedars-Sinai, told The Washington Post that patients are confused about the benefits of aspirin, in part, because national guidelines now advise against using the medication to prevent a first heart attack.

But the advice does not apply to aspirin for “secondary” prevention. Federal guidelines still recommend taking the drug to help stop blood clots from forming in the arteries after an initial heart attack.

“Then the patients who have had a cardiac event—who have had a heart attack or who have had a stroke—they are the ones who suddenly stop taking their aspirin,” Gulati told The Washington Post. “And sometimes, they feel well and don’t think they need to take it.”

Gulati also spoke with HuffPost about how COVID-19 can affect the cardiovascular system. She and other Cedars-Sinai investigators found in a recent study that people who had COVID-19 when they had a heart attack were three times more likely to die. They also were more likely to need a ventilator.

“Did they have the heart attack and COVID was incidentally there ... or was it that they had COVID and they got a heart attack? We just know that they had COVID [at the time of the heart attack],” Gulati told HuffPost.

Gulati added that prioritizing heart health is important: “An infection is a stress to the heart, so the more we can keep our heart healthy, I think the better we are equipped to face any illness.”

Click here to read the complete article from The Washington Post, and click here to read the complete article from HuffPost.