Changing advice on using aspirin to prevent heart attacks


Seniors without heart disease should not take low-dose aspirin daily to prevent a first heart attack or stroke, a group influencing health guidelines said in an updated preliminary advisory released Tuesday.

The bleeding risks for adults in their 60s and older who haven’t had a heart attack or stroke outweigh the potential benefits of aspirin, the US Task Force on Preventive Services said. in its draft guidelines.

For the first time, the panel said there might be a small benefit for adults in their 40s who have no risk of bleeding. For people in their 50s, the panel relaxed the advice and the evidence for the benefits is less clear.

The recommendations are intended for people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, or other conditions that increase their risk of heart attack or stroke. Regardless of their age, adults should talk to their doctor about stopping or starting aspirin to make sure it’s the right choice for them, said task force member Dr John Wong. , primary care expert at Tufts Medical Center.

“Using aspirin can cause serious harm and the risk increases with age,” he said.

If finalized, the advice for the elderly would reverse the expert group’s recommendations made in 2016 to help prevent a first heart attack and stroke, but it would follow more recent guidance from other medical groups.

Doctors have long recommended low-dose daily aspirin for many patients who have already had a heart attack or stroke. The orientation of the working group does not change this opinion.

The task force previously said that a daily aspirin may also protect against colorectal cancer for some adults in their 50s and 60s, but the updated guidelines say more evidence of any benefit is needed.

The advice was posted online to allow public comment until November 8. The group will assess these comments and then make a final decision.

The independent panel of disease prevention experts analyzes medical research and the literature and publishes periodic advice on what to do to help Americans stay healthy. More recent studies and a reanalysis of older research prompted the updated advice, Wong said.

Aspirin is best known as a pain reliever, but it’s also a blood thinner that can reduce the risk of blood clots. But aspirin also comes with risks, even in low doses, mainly bleeding in the digestive tract or ulcers, both of which can be life threatening.

Dr Lauren Block, internist-researcher at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in Manhasset, New York, said the advice is important because so many adults take aspirin even though they have never had a heart attack or stroke.

Block, who is not on the task force, recently switched one of his patients from aspirin to a cholesterol-lowering statin because of the potential harms.

The patient, Richard Schrafel, 70, suffers from high blood pressure and knows his risks for a heart attack. Schrafel, president of a cardboard distribution company, said he had never had any ill effects from aspirin, but he takes the new guidelines seriously.

Rita Seefeldt, 63, also suffers from high blood pressure and took aspirin daily for about a decade until her doctor told her two years ago to stop.

“He said they had changed their minds about it,” recalls the retired Milwaukee Elementary School teacher. She said she understands that science evolves.

Wong acknowledged that going back might leave some patients frustrated and wondering why scientists can’t make up their minds.

“That’s a good question,” he said. “What is really important to know is that the evidence changes over time. “


The Associated Press’s Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.


About Author

Leave A Reply