Aspirin should not be prescribed daily to people over 60 to prevent cardiovascular events like heart attacks or strokes, according to a new statement from the United States Preventive Services Task Force.
Low-dose aspirin had long been considered a good preventative measure, but studies have begun to question its effectiveness. A task force announced Tuesday and finalized new recommendations against using low-dose aspirin. In adults 60 years or older, the task force concludes that taking daily aspirin has “no net benefit” and can make a person more susceptible to internal bleeding.
Taskforce members carefully sifted through the latest studies and weighed the benefits and risks of daily aspirin use among adults 40 to 59 years of age.
According to Dr. John Wong, a member of the task force and a physician at Tufts Medical Center, aspirin appears to have less benefit in cardiovascular diseases compared with earlier studies. He adds that people are more likely to bleed as they age.
Wong says you should discuss whether to take aspirin with your physician depending on your cardiovascular risk. Despite the fact that aspirin can be taken safely by most people, bleeding in the stomach, intestines, and brain can be very dangerous.
The guidelines contain some important nuances. People who have already suffered heart attacks or strokes are not eligible for them. The government does not advise adults who are currently taking aspirin daily to discontinue taking it. In spite of this, the task force cautioned that due to an increase in bleeding risk with age, patients may want to consider stopping daily aspirin use around the age of 75.
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In the United States, cardiovascular disease accounts for more than 1 in 4 deaths. Nearly 600,000 Americans experience their first heart attack every year, and about 600,000 Americans suffer their first stroke every year.
Since a major medical panel issued its last guidance in 2016 about taking aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease, the science has evolved. In part due to statins being taken, new studies are not finding as much benefit, according to Dr. Salim Virani, a Baylor College of Medicine cardiologist.
Since there are other therapies that can reduce the risk of heart attacks or strokes, the benefit of aspirin has become marginal and yet the bleeding risk associated with it persists,” he told NPR in November.
Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about taking aspirin, said NPR’s Dr. Demilade Adedinsewo, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist.
According to NPR, “This information should inspire you to have a discussion with your physician.” Taking aspirin does not indicate that everyone who is taking it should stop taking it.