Published: Tue, March 19, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Aspirin no longer recommended for heart attack, stroke prevention

Aspirin no longer recommended for heart attack, stroke prevention

Although doctors have touted the benefits of taking a low-dose aspirin daily to prevent heart attack or stroke for decades, new guidelines released by the American College of Cardiology Sunday reversed that recommendation for certain groups of patients.

For years, millions of adults followed recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to take baby aspirin daily to reduce their risk of heart disease.

Those patients who have met with their physicians and they have known heart disease or had a cardiovascular event those are the people that definitely benefit form continued low dose aspirin therapy.

"Low-dose aspirin for primary prevention [is] now reserved for select high-risk patients", according to the guidelines.

In this guideline, ACC/AHA experts offer science-based guidance that aspirin should only rarely be used to help prevent heart attacks and stroke in people without known cardiovascular disease.

"The most important way to prevent cardiovascular disease, whether it's a build-up of plaque in the arteries, heart attack, stroke, heart failure or issues with how the heart contracts and pumps blood to the rest of the body, is by adopting heart-healthy habits and to do so over one's lifetime", Blumenthal said.

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The new guideline walks that back, saying that taking daily aspirin for this goal would do more harm than good in all adults over the age of 70 and all adults who have an increased risk of bleeding.

Another tested aspirin in people with diabetes, who are more likely to develop or die from heart problems, and found that the modest benefit it gave was offset by a greater risk of serious bleeding.

The bottom line, according to Blumenthal: "Aspirin should be limited to people at the highest risk of cardiovascular disease and a very low risk of bleeding". "More than 80 percent of all cardiovascular events are preventable through lifestyle changes, yet we often fall short in terms of implementing these strategies and controlling other risk factors".

This change comes after a large clinical trial found a daily low-dose aspirin had no effect on prolonging life in healthy, elderly people, and actually suggested the pills could be linked to major hemorrhages.

Patients should work closely with their doctors to establish their risk for bleeding.

"There's been a lot of uncertainty among doctors around the world about prescribing aspirin" beyond those for whom it's now recommended, said one study leader, Dr. Jane Armitage of the University of Oxford. Healthy eating also means limiting the intake of other things like salt, saturated fats, fried foods, processed meats, and sweetened beverages.

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