Doctors have long promoted a daily low dose of aspirin to protect against heart attack and stroke. Duke University cardiologist Jeffrey Berger added more weight to the recommendation with a study presented at this month's American Heart Association meeting in Chicago.

Berger and his colleagues find that people with cardiovascular disease - but whose condition is stable - benefit dramatically from taking 50 to 325 milligrams of aspirin each day. That level of aspirin therapy decreased mortality by 13 percent, non-fatal heart attacks by 26 percent and non-fatal stroke by 25 percent.

The study looked at data from 10,000 patients in six clinical trials. Berger says while taking a daily aspirin also increases a patient's risk of bleeding, the protective benefits for people with heart disease far outweigh the risks. "Unless somebody has a severe contra indication, such as a really bad allergic reaction or they have had some intolerable bleeds, people should be on aspirin therapy."

Berger says compared to newer drugs like statins that have been effective in protecting against heart disease, "everyday aspirin costs less and comes off looking very good."