Taking a daily low-dose aspirin, a common practice long believed to protect against heart attacks and strokes, is not always a healthy one, says the United States Preventive Services Taskforce. Revised recommendations, recently published in JAMA, say:
Low-dose, daily aspirin is not recommended for adults ages 60 and older who have never suffered a heart attack or stroke.
Adults between the ages of 40-59 years considered to be at an increased risk of a first-time heart attack or stroke (who are not an increased risk for bleeding) may slightly benefit from taking low-dose, daily aspirin.
UW Medicine cardiologist Dr. Eugene Yang offers context to these recommendations for people who are already taking daily aspirin. Speak with your physician before stopping the routine, he says.
“There are potentially negative consequences for people to stop taking aspirin if they're high risk, which may actually increase their chances of having a heart attack or stroke if they discontinue the medication without consulting with their physician,” said Yang, co-director of the Cardiovascular Wellness and Prevention Program. “Having a discussion with your physician or provider about whether you should continue taking it or not is the first thing to do, and do not stop taking the medicine without consulting with somebody first.”
Yang says aspirin’s potential preventive benefits against first-time heart attacks and strokes may be outweighed by internal bleeding risks for most people, as aspirin is a blood thinner.