Millions of Americans have been taking low-dose aspirin, also called baby aspirin, to prevent a heart attack or stroke. But new proposed guidelines recommended by the influential U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) suggest that many older adults who are not at elevated risk for these conditions should not start taking daily baby aspirin.
That’s because taking aspirin daily increases the risk for internal bleeding, which could offset any cardiovascular benefits. However, individuals who have already had a heart attack or stroke may continue taking aspirin after consulting with their physicians, according to UCHealth.
“There are still many patients who could potentially benefit from taking a daily low-dose aspirin, including those who have already had a cardiovascular event and those who are at high risk for having one,” said UCHealth cardiologist Dr. Steven Simon.
“Taking aspirin will reduce clotting, which may help to prevent a heart attack,” explains Dr. Gabe Mirkin, author of The Healthy Heart Miracle. “But it can increase the risk for internal bleeding into the brain to cause a stroke or into the stomach to cause bleeding ulcers. The USPSTF message is that people over 60 are more likely to die from bleeding than they are to be protected from suffering a heart attack.”
Simon says that cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S and that for decades, doctors have often advised older adults to take baby aspirin to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Since an estimated 605,000 Americans have a first heart attack and 610,000 have their first stroke each year, prevention is critical.
The new guidelines that are currently in draft form and should be finalized by the end of the year state:
•People over the age of 60 who have not had a prior heart attack, stroke, stent or heart surgery, or significant clogging of the arteries should not start taking baby aspirin. The risk of bleeding may outweigh the benefits of this regimen.
• Adults aged 40 to 59 who have a greater than 10% risk of having a stroke or heart attack over the next ten years may derive some benefit from taking a daily low-dose aspirin but this group should consult with their doctor.
• Individuals who have already had a stroke or heart attack and are following the advice of their doctors to continue taking a daily baby aspiring should continue to do so, says Simon, according to UCHealth. The cardiologist emphasizes that when the new guideline recommendations appeared, people mistakenly thought that everyone should cease taking baby aspirin.
“This applies to a very specific patient group,” he said.
Mirkin adds that using aspirin occasionally for pain relief can be safe, but “taking aspirin regularly is likely to make you bleed easily, which can harm you and even cause death from a stroke or other internal bleeding. If you are already taking aspirin daily, do not stop without consulting with your doctor. He or she will certainly be aware of these new guidelines and can discuss your individual situation.”
© 2022 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.