Taking aspirin immediately after a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or a minor stroke can lower the risk of a recurrent stroke by as much as 80 percent, says a May 2016 study in The Lancet. Aspirin can also reduce the severity of an early recurrent stroke by 80 to 90 percent.
Researchers studied data involving 15,778 participants from 12 trials of aspirin treatment in the prevention of recurrent stroke. They found a much greater benefit of aspirin on recurrent stroke than previous studies, which had shown that aspirin reduced recurrent stroke by only 13 percent.
The benefit of aspirin was the greatest when taken up to two weeks after a TIA or a minor ischemic stroke. After 12 weeks, aspirin did not have a significant effect on either the risk or severity of a recurrent stroke.
The researchers recommended that people who have stroke-like or unfamiliar neurological symptoms seek medical attention but also take aspirin immediately.
However, the American Heart Association cautions against taking aspirin during a stroke without getting the advice of a healthcare professional first. Call 911 immediately if you have any symptoms of a stroke. Some strokes are caused by ruptured blood vessels and aspirin could make bleeding more severe.
Read more about the risks and benefits of daily aspirin.