Daily aspirin use now linked to risk in older adults

Oct 14, 2021
Recent recommendations change current advice on regular aspirin intake. Source: Getty Images.

Doctors have long recommended the use of aspirin to lower the risk of a first heart attack and stroke for older adults, however a recent draft study from The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has now changed the longstanding recommendation.

Aspirin is a blood thinner and has been known to aid in the prevention of heart attacks and strokes by preventing blood clots from forming. However, the bleeding risks for adults in their 60s and older who haven’t had a heart attack or stroke have been shown to outweigh the benefits.

The recommendations do not apply to those who have suffered a heart attack or stroke and are taking aspirin under doctor’s orders.

The Taskforce now recommends that once people turn 60 years old, they should not start taking aspirin because the risk of bleeding cancels out the benefits of preventing heart disease.

Task Force member Chien-Wen Tseng, M.D., M.P.H., M.S.E.E commented on the findings in a statement, “The latest evidence is clear: starting a daily aspirin regimen in people who are 60 or older to prevent a first heart attack or stroke is not recommended,” she said.

Professor Stephen Nicholls, cardiologist and head of Melbourne’s MonashHeart said “the data is less clear and the older you get the less convincing it is for people who haven’t had a heart attack or stroke and are taking aspirin.”

“The best data for benefits of aspirin are in those patients who have already had a heart attack, stroke, stent or bypass procedure. Those patients should keep taking their aspirin,” he said

“In people over 60 the benefits of preventive aspirin is lacking and there is a bleeding risk that comes along with its use.”

Task Force member John Wong, M.D said aspirin use could help when preventing heart attacks but could “cause potentially serious harms, such as internal bleeding,”.

“It’s important that people who are 40 to 59 years old and don’t have a history of heart disease have a conversation with their clinician to decide together if starting to take aspirin is right for them,” he said.

In 2019, amid mounting evidence, Australia changed its guidelines concerning aspirin use recommending most healthy people should not take aspirin to prevent a first heart attack or cardiovascular disease.

According to data from an Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) study, “the prevalence of heart disease amongst Australians was around one in twenty (4.8% or 1.2 million people).”

DISCLAIMER: This article is of a general nature and FYI only because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

Have you taken aspirin to prevent first heart attacks? Will the latest advice change your mind?

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