If You Take These 2 Medications, Talk to Your Doctor Now, New Study Says

Taking the two popular pills together could be risky, researchers say.

Taking low doses of aspirin is a common daily regimen for some people thanks to its blood-thinning capabilities that can help reduce the chance of heart attack or stroke. But if you're one of the many who take a daily dose of aspirin alongside other pills, you may want to schedule a chat with your physician. That's because a new study recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine has found that taking aspirin with another certain type of medication can increase health risks. Read on to see which medicines you shouldn't be mixing, and for more on bad combinations, check out If You're Taking Tylenol With This, Your Liver Is in Danger, Experts Say.

A new study finds taking aspirin with other blood thinners can be risky.

Idar-Oberstein, Germany - May 7, 2014: One Aspirin tablet, containing 0.5 gram of acetylsalicylic acid as active pharmaceutical ingredient, located on its blister pack with ten tablets. Aspirin is one of the most common and used pharmaceutical drugs worldwide. In 1897 Aspirin was first synthesized by the german company Bayer. It was mainly used to relieve pain and aches, but today it is also known to help to lower the risk for strokes, heart attackes and maybe some type of cancer if taken in low dosis regulary. This packaging is the one being sold in Germany.

To answer a hypothesis about the use of specific blood thinners used in combination with aspirin, researchers from the University of Michigan examined data on 3,280 patients who had been prescribed a new class of direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC), including apixaban, dabigatran, edoxaban, and rivaroxaban. Research showed that a third of the patients were also taking aspirin, despite the fact they didn't have another reason to take a daily dose, such as a recent heart attack or an operation such as a heart valve replacement.

The results also indicated that those taking both medications saw an increase in health risks without any of the potential benefits. "The patients on combination therapy were more likely to have bleeding events, but they weren't less likely to have a blood clot," Jordan Schaefer, MD, the study's lead author and an assistant professor of internal medicine and a hematologist at Michigan Medicine, said in a statement.

And for more on what does increase your risk of a blood clot, check out If You Have This Blood Type, You're More Likely to Get Blood Clots.

You should speak to your doctor if you're taking aspirin alongside other anticoagulants.

A confident male doctor sits across from an unrecognizable female patient and holds a medication. He gestures as he explains the new prescription.

The researchers pointed out that it still might be beneficial for some patients to take both medications, including those who have recently suffered a heart attack or undergone major heart surgery. But those who are taking an anticoagulant to reduce the risk of stroke or pulmonary embolism without a clear reason to be taking aspirin should beware of the potentially risky combination, especially since most physicians may not know their patients are on the regimen because of the fact aspirin over-the-counter (OTC) medicine.

"It's important that patients ask their doctors if they should be taking aspirin when they are prescribed a direct oral anticoagulant," Schaefer concluded in the statement. And for more on what could also increase your health risks, check out If You Take This Medication, You're More Likely to Get a Blood Clot.

Medical experts say only certain people should be taking aspirin daily.

senior man sitting alone in his kitchen and taking pills
katleho Seisa / iStock

While the benefits of a daily regimen of aspirin have been shown in the past, some medical experts caution that it's not right for everyone. "The decision to add aspirin as therapy should be done with a doctor's consultation," Eduardo Sanchez, MD, chief medical officer for prevention for the American Heart Association, told Healthline.

"Only select patients—those who are 40 to 70 years old with other existing risk factors for cardiovascular disease, like obesity, diabetes, blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, or smoking—might be considered to take a daily low-dose aspirin as a first-line prevention of [cardiovascular disease]," Sanchez said. And for more on who is best suited for aspirin and why, read up on When You Should Take Aspirin Instead of Advil or Tylenol

Aspirin might also be dangerous in combination with fish oil supplements.

Image of Bottle of omega 3 fish oil capsules pouring into hand.

But it's not just DOACs that can create complications when taken alongside aspirin. Researchers have found that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), which are a type of medication including ibuprofen, could have potentially dangerous interactions with fish oil supplements. When taken together, there's a "moderate risk" that the combination could "thin your blood and one of the possible side effects is prolonged bleed time," explains Jessica Nouhavandi, PharmD, lead pharmacist and founder of online pharmacy Honeybee Health.

This means that any medication in the NSAID group, including aspirin and naproxen, could negatively interact with fish oil. And for more on dangerous medicine mixes, check out If You Take These 2 OTC Meds Together, You're Putting Your Liver at Risk.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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