Photo: Anke Thomass / ullstein bild via Getty
DETROIT, October 13, 2021 ~ Tuesday, new guidelines were released by the US Preventive Services Task Force, saying people 40 to 59 should speak with their clinician about taking low-dose aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease, while people 60 and over should not start taking aspirin for heart attack and stroke prevention.
According to the Task Force, those who have already experienced a heart attack or stroke and are taking aspirin should continue to do so, and consult with their clinician prior to stopping aspirin intake.
Heart disease and stroke are currently the leading causes of death in the United States, accounting for nearly one in three deaths.
While daily aspirin use has shown to lower the chance of having a first heart attack, the risk of life-threatening bleeding in the intestines, stomach and brain outweigh the benefits aspirin can give.
“We know that aspirin can have some downsides to it including bleeding,” said Michigan Medicine Cardiologist Dr. Geoff Barnes to 760 WJR’s Guy Gordon. “And that understanding has been increasing in recent years. At the same time, we also know that the benefits of aspirin may not be as great as we once thought they were.”
October 13, 2021 ~ Michigan Medicine Cardiologist Dr. Geoff Barnes talks to Guy Gordon about new guidance on taking an aspirin a day and he also has important advice on salt intake.
“So while it is still helpful to prevent heart attacks and strokes, it probably doesn’t prevent heart attacks and strokes quite as well as we thought it used to, because we have changed in the last couple decades. We smoke less, we control our cholesterol better, so it sort of changed that risk/benefit calculation.”
This release is based on new evidence found since the 2016 Task Force recommendation. Based on this evidence, it is recommended that individuals over 60 should not start taking aspirin, as the risks of bleeding cancel out the benefits of cardiovascular disease prevention.
This new study also shows a closer balance of benefits and harms than previously understood for those in their 50s, while starting regular aspirin use as young as 40 still may have benefits.
“Daily aspirin use may help prevent heart attacks and strokes in some people, but it can also cause potentially serious harms, such as internal bleeding,” says Task Force member John Wong, M.D. “It’s important that people who are 40 to 59 years old and don’t have a history of heart disease have a conversation with their clinician to decide together if starting to take aspirin is right for them.”
This data only applies for those starting a daily regimen of aspirin who are under 60 to prevent a first heart attack.
“It’s absolutely an ‘ask your doctor’ situation,” said Dr. Barnes. “Talk with them, understand your individual risks, and let’s make the best decision for each individual patient.”
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