Though low dose aspirin has been in the news lately, it is still an important component for preventing heart attacks and strokes.
Heart disease is a serious public health issue. It’s responsible for roughly 25 percent of deaths in the US, making it the top cause of death in the country. For decades, one of the tools doctors have turned to in the fight against heart attacks and stroke is daily low-aspirin therapy. It seems that fewer patients in Forest Hills may be using aspirin from now on.
Aspirin Used to Improve Cardiovascular Health
For years, doctors have recommended most adults over 50 take daily low-dose aspirin. The reasoning behind this was that the pain reliever reduces the blood’s ability to clot. Since blood clots can lead to heart attacks and strokes, it was used to help prevent them from forming before they cause problems.
This seems to work well for people who have already had a stroke or heart attack. But it turns out that the reduced clotting effects can have negative consequences too. John Hopkins Medicine explains that just because you don’t need a prescription for aspirin doesn’t mean it isn’t a powerful drug with significant side effects.
As the data accumulates, experts are rethinking just how many people should take aspirin every day.
CNN reports that over the last few years, the recommendations on daily aspirin therapy have been becoming more cautious. In 2016, the US Preventive Services Task Force stated that taking aspirin “should be an individual” decision between patients and doctors for adults 60 to 69 years old. For those who are 50 to 59, it should only be used by people with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and no bleeding problems.
Recently, the task force tightened those recommendations even more. This month, the task force posted a draft statement with updated guidelines. This doesn’t mean that the medical community is abandoning the use of daily aspirin therapy entirely. It still appears to be useful for people who have already experienced a heart attack or a stroke.
What Does This Mean for You?
The most important message to take away from the new statement is that patients should not make a decision about aspirin therapy without speaking to their doctor first. The factors to consider are complex. The safest route is to speak to your doctor before making any changes to the medications you take.
From a patient’s perspective, changing recommendations can be frustrating. They may even leave you wondering who to trust. But as doctors gather more data about how aspirin therapy works for a variety of people, they are able to make more precise and effective recommendations.
As with all medication, aspirin therapy comes with both benefits and risks. Your doctor can give you the information you need to know. Ask them if it’s the right choice for you or your loved one.
David York Understands Cardiovascular Health in Forest Hills
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