(NewsUSA) - A low dose (81 milligrams) of enteric-coated baby aspirin has been shown to reduce the rate of heart attacks and strokes in patients with vascular disease by approximately 25 percent. In addition, some researchers suggest taking a low dose aspirin daily has numerous other benefits for patients, including reducing the risk of colon cancer.

There are many theories about why aspirin may work, according to the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS). One of the most popular theories is aspirin reduces the amount of clotting in the blood stream. Imagine a blood vessel-which looks like a tube-with some plaque inside. The plaque reduces the size of the tube. A small amount of plaque will not affect blood flow. However, if the amount of plaque increases, blood flow reduces significantly. At some point, the extent of plaque can tremendously diminish blood flow.

What if, in this area of high plaque burden, a small clot forms? This clot may block the total flow in the artery. This is called "atherothrombosis." It is believed the clot forming in an area where there is extensive narrowing causes many heart attacks and strokes, as well as difficulty walking. Aspirin helps reduce the amount of clot formation.

Talk about the risk of vascular disease with your physician. If you are at risk, discuss taking aspirin daily. Generally, most patients with vascular disease should be taking a low-dose aspirin every day. There are a few exceptions, such as intolerance of aspirin. The most common problem these patients have is stomach or gastrointestinal upset. Likewise, patients who have known ulcer disease of the stomach may not do well on aspirin.

If your doctor diagnoses plaque that reduces your blood flow, see a vascular surgeon. Today's vascular surgeons are the only specialists who are skilled in all vascular therapies. They are comprehensively trained in medical, endovascular (minimally invasive), and surgical therapies. With this extensive training, they are the experts who provide the best diagnosis and treatment for vascular conditions.

To learn more about your vascular health and to find a vascular surgeon, visit SVS's Web site at www.VascularWeb.org.