New guidance issued on daily aspirin use in older adults

Alicia Colombo

According to new guidance from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, adults 60 and older should not start taking daily, low-dose aspirin to prevent cardiovascular events, like heart attacks or strokes. People who are currently on a daily aspirin regimen should consult their doctors about whether to continue.

Low-dose aspirin had previously been recommended for older adults as a heart disease prevention measure. However, growing evidence now shows it has “no net benefit” and increases an older person’s risk of internal bleeding in the stomach, intestines and brain, which can be life-threatening.

For adults aged 40 to 59, a daily aspirin may have a “small net benefit,” according to the task force.

The new guidelines do not apply to people who have already had a heart attack or stroke. They also do not advise adults who are currently taking daily aspirin to stop taking it. However, the task force does caution that because of increased bleeding risk with age, patients may need to consider stopping daily aspirin use around age 75. Whether or not you choose to take aspirin depends on your cardiovascular risk and should be decided with your doctor.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality in the U.S., accounting for more than 1 in 4 deaths. Each year about 600,000 people in the U.S. have a first heart attack and about 600,000 people experience a first stroke.

The science has changed since the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released its last guidance on taking aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease in 2016. According to Dr. Salim Virani, a cardiologist at Baylor College of Medicine, the benefit of taking aspirin has become marginal because we have these other therapies that reduce the risk of heart attacks or strokes, such as statins. But the bleeding risk associated with aspirin therapy has persisted.

“This is not a blanket recommendation that everyone on aspirin should stop their aspirin,” cautions Dr. Virani. “This information should just make you have a conversation with your physician.”

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Source: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Categories: Health Milestones eNews


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