ASA for peripheral arterial disease

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ASA for peripheral arterial disease


Generic NameBrand Name
acetylsalicylic acid (ASA)Anacin, Aspirin, Bufferin

Brand-name ASA is no more effective than generic or store brands.

How It Works

ASA helps prevent the formation of blood clots. This can decrease the chance that a blood clot will form and block an already-narrowed artery.

Why It Is Used

ASA may be given to people who have peripheral arterial disease (PAD) or risk factors for peripheral arterial disease. It may also be used after bypass surgery or angioplasty to prevent the formation of blood clots after these procedures.

How Well It Works

Research results vary on the effects of ASA for PAD, but it may lower the risk for heart attack and stroke1.

Side Effects

Side effects of ASA include:

  • Inflammation of the stomach (gastritis).
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • An allergic reaction.
  • In rare cases, bruising and bleeding (hemorrhage) in the brain or other internal organs of the body.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

ASA may be combined with other antiplatelet or anticoagulant medicines.

Some doctors are concerned that long-term daily ASA use can increase the risk of stomach problems. A smaller dose, such as a single low-dose ASA, is often used and appears to be just as effective as a higher dose. Consult your doctor before you start taking ASA on a regular basis.

Because of ASA's effect on blood clotting, your doctor may want you to stop your ASA at least 5 to 10 days before surgery and before any dental procedure that may cause excessive bleeding.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Berger JS, et al. (2009). Aspirin for the prevention of cardiovascular events in patients with peripheral artery disease: A meta-analysis of randomized trials. JAMA, 301(18): 1909–1919.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David A. Szalay, MD - Vascular Surgery
Last Revised January 26, 2010

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.