Millions of people who take aspirin to prevent a heart attack may need to think about the p-pop, Harvard researchers reported Monday.
A daily low dose of aspirin is recommended for people who have already had a heart attack or stroke and for those diagnosed with heart disease.
But for the otherwise healthy, this advice has chosen. Guidelines released this year exclude routine aspirin use for many older adults who do not already have heart disease – and said it is only for some younger people according to doctor's orders.
How many people need to get this message?
29 million people 40 and older took an aspirin a day even though they had no known heart disease in 201
And nearly half of people over 70 who do not have heart disease – estimated at about 10 million – daily took aspirin for prevention, researchers reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
"Many patients are confused about this," says Dr. Colin O'Brien, a senior internal medicine resident of Beth Israel, led the study.
After all, for several years, doctors urged people to utilize aspirin's blood thinning properties to reduce the risk of a first heart attack or stroke. Since last year, three surprising new studies challenged that dogma. These studies were some of the biggest and longest to test aspirin in people with low and moderate risk of heart attack, and found only marginal benefit to anyone, especially for older adults. Still, aspirin users experienced significantly more bleeding in the digestive system, along with some other side effects.
In March, these results led to a change in the guidelines of the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology:
– People over 70 who do not have heart disease – or are younger but at increased risk of bleeding – should avoid daily aspirin for prevention.
– Only certain 40-70-year-olds who do not already have heart disease are high enough to guarantee 75 to 100 mg of aspirin daily, and it is for a doctor to determine.
Nothing has changed for heart attack survivors: Aspirin is still recommended for them.
But there is no way to know how many otherwise healthy people got the word about the changed recommendations.
"We hope that more doctors in primary care will talk to their patients about the use of aspirin, and that more patients will address this with their doctors," Brien said.
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