Ibuprofen May Block Aspirin's Heart Benefits

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Aspirin is very helpful in preventing heart attacks because it interferes with a normal blood clotting element called platelets. It actually prevents the platelets from aggregating or sticking together to form a clot. Aspirin does this by directly attaching to a portion of an enzyme in the platelets, thereby preventing the aggregation process.

Recently, ibuprofen has been shown to interfere with aspirin's blocking of the platelet enzyme; it essentially "gets in the way" of the aspirin. If aspirin is taken with ibuprofen, it could significantly diminish the effect of aspirin in preventing heart attacks.

I recommend that patients who are taking aspirin to prevent heart attacks and need ibuprofen, take their aspirin two hours before taking ibuprofen, such as first thing in the morning with breakfast. In this way, the aspirin is able to interfere with the platelet aggregation by binding to the platelet enzyme before ibuprofen is around. I also recommend that both aspirin and ibuprofen be taken with food.

Medically reviewed by Robert J. Bryg, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Cardiovascular Disease


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