ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- A new public health campaign in Minnesota encourages middle-aged and older people to consider taking a daily dose of aspirin to prevent a heart attack or stroke, even if they have never had cardiovascular problems in the past.
The "Ask About Aspirin" campaign launched Thursday in an effort to get people ages 50 to 69 to ask their doctor if they should take a daily aspirin, the Minnesota Public Radio News reported.
"A substantial number of Minnesotans do take regular aspirin now. But the majority who would benefit from it, do not. And that's the group we're targeting," said Dr. Russell Luepker, a cardiologist and researcher with the Minnesota Heart Health Program, a University of Minnesota effort to reduce heart disease.
Luepker said less than a third of the program's target population take aspirin to prevent a heart attack or stroke. But he said many more would benefit from doing so because they have undiagnosed high blood pressure or other conditions that don't cause pain.
Each year, more than 16,000 Minnesota residents suffer a first stroke or heart attack, and 2,000 of those events could be prevented if most at-risk patients took a daily aspirin, according to Luepker.
Many doctors already encourage their patients to take a daily aspirin, but experts say the practice is spotty, especially for one with a clear public health benefit. University of Minnesota researchers have been working with clinics across the state to find out why and to encourage chats about aspirin.
But not all patients need to take aspirin, which is why the slogan is "Ask About Aspirin," said Stan Shanedling, who supervises the cardiovascular health unit at the Minnesota Department of Health. He said people should "do it in concert with advice from your physician."
Minnesota is the first state to launch a statewide aspirin campaign, according to Shanedling.
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