Review: Low- Versus High-Dose Aspirin in Prevention of Ischemic Stroke

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Summary: Aspirin is the most extensively studied drug for the prevention of ischemic vascular disease. Meta-analyses confirm that aspirin is effective in prevention of ischemic events, including stroke. Recently, there has been considerable discussion about the best dose of aspirin to prevent stroke. Several studies tested aspirin in a daily dose of 975 mg or more alone or in combination with another drug, most commonly dipyridamole, and noted that aspirin was effective. Successively lower doses of aspirin were tested and recent studies demonstrate that low doses (< 100 mg/day) are effective. Only one study, enrolling patients with transient ischemic attack or minor stroke, has examined aspirin in a daily dose of ~325 mg. Side effects of aspirin are dose related; gastrointestinal bleeding and epigastric pain are less with low doses. Available data cannot confirm that low doses (< 100 mg/day) of aspirin are either more or less effective than larger (975 mg/day) doses. A direct comparison of the usefulness of low doses (< 100 mg/day) or large doses (~1,000 mg/day) in patients at high risk of stroke is needed. Until the results of such a study are known, the better safety profile of low doses favors aspirin in a daily dose of 100 mg or less.

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