Recommendations to reduce heart attacks by switching to aspirin

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An influential group of health experts advised that older adults with no heart disease should not take low-dose aspirin daily to prevent a stroke or heart attack.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force stated in draft guidance that aspirin can cause bleeding in adults over 60 who have not had a stroke or heart attack.

The panel suggested that there might be some benefit for people in their 40s with no bleeding risk. The panel reaffirmed its recommendation for those over 50, but said that evidence of benefits is less certain.

These recommendations are for people who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or any other condition that could increase their risk of a stroke or heart attack. No matter what age, all adults should speak with their doctors to discuss whether they should stop or start aspirin. Dr. John Wong is a Tufts Medical Center primary-care expert.

He said that aspirin can cause serious health problems and the risk of developing heart disease with age is increased.

The finalized advice for older adults will reverse the 2016 recommendations for helping to prevent a stroke and heart attack. However, it would still be in line with other medical groups’ more recent guidelines.

Many patients suffering from a stroke or heart attack have been prescribed aspirin by doctors. This advice is not changed by the task force guidance.

Although the task force had previously suggested that daily aspirin could be used to protect against colorectal carcinoma in some people in their 50s or 60s, new guidance states that more evidence is required.

This guidance was made available online for public comment until Nov. 8. After receiving all comments, the group will make a final determination.

An independent panel of experts in disease prevention analyzes medical literature and medical research, and provides periodic advice to Americans on ways to keep their health. Wong stated that the new advice was based on updated research and a review of older research.

Although aspirin is most well-known for its pain relief properties, it can also be used to reduce the risk of blood clots. Aspirin can also cause bleeding problems, especially in low doses.

Dr. Lauren Block is an internist-researcher at Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, Manhasset, New York. She said that the guidance was important because many adults use aspirin even if they have never suffered a stroke or heart attack.

Block, who isn’t on the task force was recently able to switch one of her patients from taking aspirin to cholesterol-lowering statin drugs because of potential dangers.

Richard Schrafel (70-year-old patient) has high blood pressure and is aware of his risk of heart attack. Schrafel, president of a paperboard-distribution business, said he never had any ill effects from aspirin, but he is taking the new guidance seriously.

Rita Seefeldt (63), also has high blood pressure. She took an aspirin daily for approximately a decade, until her doctor advised her to stop two years ago.

The Milwaukee-based retired elementary school teacher said that they had changed their minds. She stated that she understood science evolves.

Wong acknowledged that some patients might be frustrated by the backtracking and wonder why scientists aren’t able to make up their mind.

He said, “It’s an honest question.” “It’s important to understand that evidence changes over time.”