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Annals of Pharmacotherapy

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OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy of aspirin for the treatment and prevention of ischemic stroke and identify the minimum dose proven to be effective for each indication.

DATA SOURCES: PubMed and MEDLINE searches (January 2009–January 2010) were performed to identify primary literature, using search terms including aspirin, stroke prevention, acute ischemic stroke, acetylsalicylic acid, atrial fibrillation, myocardial infarction, and carotid endarterectomy. Additionally, reference citations from publications identified were reviewed.

STUDY SELECTION AND DATA EXTRACTION: Articles published in English were evaluated and relevant primary literature evaluating the efficacy of aspirin in the prevention of stroke was included in this review.

DATA SYNTHESIS: Antiplatelet therapy is the benchmark for the prevention of ischemic stroke. Aspirin has been proven to prevent ischemic stroke in a variety of settings. Despite the frequency at which aspirin continues to be prescribed in patients at risk of ischemic stroke, there remains confusion in clinical practice as to what minimum dose is required in various at-risk patients. A thorough review of the primary literature suggests that low-dose (50–81 mg daily) aspirin is insufficient for some indications. Acute ischemic stroke treatment requires 160–325 mg, while atrial fibrillation and carotid arterial disease require daily doses of 325 and 81–325 mg, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Available evidence suggests that aspirin dosing must be individualized according to indication. Recommendations provided by national guidelines at times recommend lower doses of aspirin than have been proven effective. Higher doses are indicated for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation (325mg) and acute ischemic stroke patients (160–325 mg). Aspirin has not yet been proven effective for primary prevention of strokes in men, and a minimum dose for these patients cannot be determined from the available data.


This is a post-print version of an article originally published in Annals of Pharmacotherapy,2010, Volume 44.. The version of record is available at SAGE Journals.