By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – They call aspirin the miracle drug. Think about just a few of the benefits.

Aspirin therapy can reduce subsequent heart attacks or strokes and it’s appropriate for people who have already had a heart attack or stroke.

For the general healthy population, the benefits of aspirin therapy may not be greater than the risks and that’s a big issue.

In healthy people with a small risk for heart problems, aspirin can reduce the risk of heart attack-related issues by about 12%, but aspirin therapy also increases bleeding risk by about 33%. So, for healthy people, the benefits can be cancelled by the risks.

In those who have already suffered a heart attack or stroke, aspirin cuts the risk of a second cardiovascular problem by 20%. That clearly is a benefit.

Even though aspirin is over-the-counter, I strongly suggest that you talk with your physician if you are going to take it on a regular basis.

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