AspirinIf a loved one is treated for a heart attack and is placed on daily aspirin therapy, consider checking with the physician about the appropriate dosage.

While the current American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology guidelines call for low-dose aspirin (81 mg), a recent study by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers of 221,199 heart-attack patients found that many patients are placed on high-dose (325 mg) aspirin.

The researchers found that aspirin dosage levels varied widely from hospital to hospital. But overall, more than half of all heart-attack patients were placed on high-dose aspirin.

“Studies have shown that low-dose aspirin is just as effective as high-dose aspirin at preventing future heart attacks and it’s safer,” said Dr. Sandeep Das, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine. Dr. Das is senior author of the study, which was recently published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

High-dose aspirin is more likely to cause bleeding problems. Previous guidelines for treatment of heart-attack patients who had stents placed called for high-dose aspirin, and the researchers surmised that many physicians are simply prescribing the higher dose due to that guidance.

The AHA recommends that people who are at risk of heart attack, or who have had a heart attack, should take a daily low-dose of aspirin only if it is recommended by their healthcare provider.