Doctors say taking the blood thinner Plavix along with aspirin can help prevent strokes and heart attacks in people with a common heart ailment.

The treatment is for atrial fibrillation, the rhythm disorder that 2.2 million Americans have.

The usual treatment is the blood thinner warfarin. But finding the right dose can be tricky. Some people can't or won't take it.

The nearly four-year study suggests that using aspirin and Plavix can lower heart attacks, heart-related deaths, strokes and blood clots by 11 percent. However, the combination also raised the risk of serious bleeding.

Doctors say they've done the math and find that patients still come out ahead with the combination treatment.

The results are being presented at an American College of Cardiology conference today. They're published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.