Taking aspirin to avoid heart attacks? Risks may outweigh benefits

Woman taking an aspirin

The American College of Cardiology recommends for now that doctors only recommend aspirin to those who are at the highest risk for cardiovascular disease and the lowest risk of bleeding, according to a statement.

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

And patients deemed "high-risk" with contributing factors such as diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol will also continue to be considered for the daily therapy.

European guidelines recommend against the use of anti-clotting therapies such as aspirin at any age.

But anyone who's had a stroke, heart attack, open-heart surgery or stents inserted to open clogged arteries... aspirin can still save their life.

The AHA and ACC say that the most up-to-date research shows that even at a low dose (typically 81 milligrams), the odds for risky bleeding that comes with daily aspirin use now outweighs any benefit.

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Dr. Roger Blumenthal, a cardiologist with Johns Hopkins Medicine in America, says clinicians should be selective in prescribing aspirin for people without known cardiovascular disease. 'It's much more important to optimize lifestyle habits and control blood pressure and cholesterol as opposed to recommending aspirin'. In addition, the study did not evaluate the effect of daily low-dose aspirin on people younger than 65.

In addition, 5.9 percent of participants taking aspirin had an increased risk of death compared to 5.2 percent taking a placebo.

And according to doctor Deidre Mattina, a Henry Ford Hospital cardiologist.

This study doesn't show whether or not aspirin prevents heart disease - rather, it shows that its risks might cancel out its benefits. The guidelines do not change the role of aspirin during a suspected heart attack as directed by a doctor.

Other recommendations in the report aimed at minimizing the risk of cardiovascular disease include engaging in regular physical activity, avoiding tobacco and focusing diets on "vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, lean vegetable or animal protein, and fish".

But new guidelines issued Sunday by two cardiology groups say that, for most adults, the practice may no longer be warranted.

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