Rethinking the aspirin regimen: Advice shifts on heart attack prevention

With evidence mounting that serious side effects outweigh the benefits, low-dose aspirin should no longer be routinely prescribed for people at high risk for a first heart attack or stroke, according to preliminary findings released Tuesday by a health guidelines panel.

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In its draft guidance, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force stated that bleeding risks for adults in their 60s and older who have suffered neither cardiovascular affliction outweigh the benefits of taking the bulwark deterrent.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for roughly 1 in 4 deaths, CNN reported.

The panel also revealed plans to retreat from its once groundbreaking 2016 recommendation to take baby aspirin for the prevention of colorectal cancer, citing the need for more research, The New York Times reported.

The proposed low-dose aspirin guidelines would not apply to those already taking aspirin or those who have already had a heart attack, the newspaper reported.

“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,” task force member Dr. Chien-Wen Tseng said in a prepared statement. “However, this Task Force recommendation is not for people already taking aspirin for a previous heart attack or stroke; they should continue to do so unless told otherwise by their clinician.”

Specifically, the panel determined that a daily low-dose aspirin regimen carries the serious risk of potential bleeding in the stomach, intestines and brain, with the risk increasing with age, CNN reported.

“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,” task force member Dr. John Wong said in a prepared statement.

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