Why is aspirin used in lupus treatment?

Low doses of aspirin (81 milligrams, often called “baby aspirin”),* taken once a day may help to reduce the risk of blood clots and miscarriage in lupus patients who have antiphospholipid antibodies. Your doctor may recommend that you take one baby aspirin per day if you fit this category, since low doses of aspirin have been shown to lower the potential for clot-forming blood cells called platelets to stick together in narrow blood vessels. For this reason, low-dose aspirin is often grouped with the antiplatelet medications, sometimes called “platelet antagonists.” In addition, low dose aspirin may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

How should I take aspirin, and what are the potential side effects?

Aspirin comes in tablets of different milligram doses. Your doctor will decide what dosage is right for you based on your symptoms of inflammation and the health of your kidneys and liver. If you take too much aspirin, you may experience an annoying ringing in your ears. In addition, if you experience stomach upset from taking aspirin or have an ulcer, you may have to stop the aspirin or take a protective medicine for your stomach such as famotidine (Pepcid).

Is there anything I should avoid while taking aspirin?

While taking aspirin, you should avoid taking ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Rufen), because studies have shown that this drug can counteract the benefits of aspirin therapy. If you need to take an over-the-counter medication for pain and stiffness, and your doctor has approved such a medication, you should try acetaminophen (Tylenol) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) instead.

Preparing for Surgery

Aspirin must be stopped one week before any surgery. Certain procedures, such as a colonoscopy, may also require that you stop aspirin therapy one week prior to the event. If you plan to have any surgeries or medical procedures, please discuss them with your doctor so that she/he may decide on the appropriate course of action.

∗ There is some debate as to which dose of aspirin is most effective in preventing blood clots. Usually, doctors recommend either 81 or 325 mg of aspirin daily. Go with whatever dosage your doctor recommends—both are beneficial.