It’s made for children, but baby aspirin is just as effective as the adult version when it comes to preventing heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular disease in adults, according to a new report from the University of Kentucky’s Linda and Jack Gill Heart Institute.

Researchers compiled data from a number of studies on aspirin and cardiovascular disease and found that baby aspirin also is less likely to cause stomach bleeding, a side effect of long-term aspirin use that hospitalizes nearly 250,000 Americans each year.

The typical baby aspirin contains 75 to 81 mg of aspirin, whereas adult aspirin contains more than triple the dosage at 325 mg.

Higher doses of aspirin have not been shown effective at preventing cardiovascular disease long-term and are linked to gastrointestinal bleeding, according to the report, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association today.

Dr. Charles Campbell, the lead author of the report, said now is the time for adults taking a full adult dose of aspirin for blood thinning the prevention of clots to ask their doctors if a lower dose might be more appropriate for them.

“There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest the higher dose is more effective,” he said. “And, in this era, when so many people are taking aspirin along with other blood thinners, like warfarin and clopidogrel, it’s certainly something worth thinking about and worth asking your doctor about.”

Even though, new cases of stomach bleeding often are linked the use of aspirin and similar medications, Campbell said the benefits outweigh the risk in aspirin therapy.

“In an acute setting, that is if you’re having a heart attack, it’s great medicine,” he said. “In a chronic setting, to prevent incidents from reoccurring, it’s also favorable and it’s useful for high risk people. But people who are at the lowest risk (for cardiovascular disease) probably shouldn’t bother with it.”

Campbell said he and other researchers at the University of Kentucky are currently involved in clinical trials studying aspirin and other anti-platelet medication such as clopidogrel.