For years, doctors have prescribed a daily low-dose aspirin to patients who have a higher risk of developing heart disease, to prevent heart attack or stroke. More recent studies have shown that the risks may outweigh the benefits.
New research has found that a daily aspirin can increase the risk of potentially dangerous bleeding. Clinical trials involved more than 164,000 people without cardiovascular disease between 53 and 64 years of age. The results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), “suggest that although regular aspirin use will prevent cardiovascular disease in people who have never had a heart attack, it won’t reduce the odds of dying if you have one and comes with a significant risk of bleeding.”(Healthline.com)
Other dangers of taking a daily aspirin:
- A severe allergic reaction in some people
- Taking with blood thinners, NSAID painkillers, or steroids causes a high risk of bleeding or peptic ulcer
Although the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology guidelines state that “adults older than 70 who haven’t had a heart attack and people who have a higher bleeding risk shouldn’t take aspirin”, a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that millions of American adults still take a daily aspirin, whether their doctor has recommended it or not.(Healthline.com)
Using health data from a 2017 National Health Interview Study, researchers found:
- 23% or 29 million of Americans take daily aspirin to prevent heart disease
- 23% of those 29 million take a daily aspirin without a doctor’s recommendation
- About half of U.S. adults over 69 years of age without cardiovascular disease take aspirin daily
Aspirin can be beneficial to some people. Health experts say that certain people can still benefit from taking that daily aspirin. If you’ve had a stroke or heart attack, a daily aspirin is still recommended. Also, the benefits outweigh the risk if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or coronary stents.
Other ways to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease or stroke:
- Get regular exercise
- Eat a healthy diet, low in saturated fat, refined sugars, and simple carbohydrates
- Don’t smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke
- Treat and manage other risk factors, like diabetes or high blood pressure
Because all medical care should be individualized and personal, Dr. Christina Wee, associate professor at Harvard Medical School says people should talk to their doctor to see whether or not they need to be on an aspirin regimen to prevent heart disease.
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