Daily Aspirin No Longer Recommended for Most Adults over 50

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For years, doctors recommended daily low-dose (baby) aspirin for adults 50 and over to protect against heart attacks and strokes. Still, new evidence suggests more harm than good, as health experts issue revised guidelines.

New recommendations advice against daily aspirin for adults 50 and over

A daily routine of taking low-dose aspirin, between 75 to 100 milligrams, with 81 milligrams being the most common, has long been recommended to prevent heart attack or stroke once someone reaches the age of 50. But now, new evidence suggests that this remedy could be causing more harm than good, particularly for people who have no cardiovascular issues.

However, guidelines have not changed for people who already suffer from cardiovascular issues.

New guidelines have been issued from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an influential physician group that helps guide medical best practices, no longer recommending daily aspirin to prevent a first heart attack or stroke among people 60 and older, ABC reported.

It’s not only this panel of experts advising against daily aspirin. Dr. Steven Nissen, the cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told ABC, that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced against a daily routine of aspirin for nearly 20 years.

Further, the USPSTF says that little benefit is offered in continuing aspirin for those 75 years of age and older.

The USPSTF says people 40 to 59 should only take daily low-dose aspirin if they have a high risk of cardiovascular disease and only in consultation with a doctor.

How does daily aspirin prevent strokes and heart attacks?

The concept behind low-dose aspirin is that aspirin interferes with the blood’s clotting action, according to Mayo Clinic. Clotting can occur between vessels that carry blood to the heart. If these vessels are already narrowed from atherosclerosis, clots can occur, a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries. The clot prevents blood flow to the heart, resulting in a heart attack. Daily aspirin therapy reduces the clotting action of blood platelets, potentially preventing heart attacks and stroke.

The dangers of daily aspirin therapy

Because aspirin works by interfering with the way blood normally clots, it runs the risk of side effects.

The most significant danger is internal bleeding. This can be a fatal risk for people who already have a bleeding or clotting disorder which causes them to bleed easily. Additionally, people who have bleeding stomach ulcers or a history of gastrointestinal bleeding are also at risk. Further, people who have an allergy to aspirin are at risk, as it can induce asthma caused by aspirin.

“Based on current evidence, the task force recommends against people 60 and older starting to take aspirin to prevent a first heart attack or stroke,” said task force vice chair Dr. Michael Barry, a professor of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, who spoke to ABC News. “Because the chance of internal bleeding increases with age, the potential harms of aspirin use cancel out the benefits in this age group.”

Recommendations have not changed for those with previous or current cardiovascular issues

The USPSTF said that guidelines do not change for people who already have a major cardiovascular issue or have suffered a heart attack or stroke. The group emphasizes that the recommendation for using daily low-dose aspirin to protect them from a second cardiovascular event remains strong. People with cardiovascular issues should continue to follow the recommendations of their doctor, which includes daily aspirin if prescribed by their personal healthcare provider.