LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Many Americans at risk for heart attacks and strokes use aspirin to help prevent them from happening. But does aspirin work for everyone? One Lawton cardiologist says people don't realize how much aspirin really helps.

"Aspirin has been shown to cut mortality rate by 50 percent in somebody that's having a heart attack," explained Dr. Vijaya Velury, a cardiologist at Comanche County Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Velury says most heart attacks occur due to increased stickiness of platelets in the blood, which can form clots and prevent blood from flowing freely.

"The antiplatelet agents prevent the aggregation of these platelets, so it's a very important first step in preventing a blood clot inside the arteries that can cause a heart attack," Dr. Velury said.

In fact, Dr. Velury says taking a low dose aspirin everyday lowers the risk of a blood clot forming in the arteries. So who should be taking a low-dose aspirin daily?

"If you have a blockage in the arteries of the leg, if you have ever had stroke or if you have had any heart attacks, then you should be taking aspirin for the rest of your life," said Dr. Velury.

There are other antiplatelet drugs available for patients that have had certain heart procedures.

"Other medications are Plavix, which you commonly hear especially in people after having a stent, that decreases the platelet aggregation and decreases the risk of heart attack," Dr. Velury said.

Before you start popping any pills, you should consult with your doctor first. Dr. Velury says if you think you're having a heart attack, take an aspirin before you go to the hospital or while you're waiting for paramedics.

In other Heart Month news, mark your calendar for the healthy heart screenings, which will be held on Feb. 29 and March 1 from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Oakwood Conference Center.

The free screening includes an electrocardiogram, heart risk assessment, waist circumference, height, weight and body mass test. For only $20, you can receive lab tests that includes your A1C, good, bad and total cholesterol and triglycerides. To make an appointment, call 580-585-5406.

Another Good Hearted Woman luncheon will be held on Friday, March 4, at noon in the Oakwood Conference Center. The cost is $5 and cardiologist Dr. Ronald Woodson will be speaking about women and heart disease. To make a reservation, call 580-585-5406.

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