For many years doctors have been recommending that older men regularly take aspirin to lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes, but now it seems that this recommendation can be dangerous. New research shows that the risks of taking aspirin outweigh the benefits, and now a special team of experts in the US has published a draft of new recommendations calling for avoiding taking the drug as a preventative treatment.
“Our message is that if you do not have a history of heart attack and stroke, you should not start taking aspirin just because you have reached a certain age,” said Prof. Chien.Wen Tseng, a member of the task force, which includes 16 evidence.based disease prevention and medicine experts. This team of experts periodically evaluates screening tests and preventative treatments. Team members are appointed by the director of the Federal Agency for Research and Quality of Health, and his recommendations often change U.S. health guidelines.
“Large bleeding that can be fatal”
Aspirin is a blood thinner that can help deal with heart attacks and strokes by preventing the formation of blood clots in the blood vessels leading to the heart or brain. However, “taking aspirin can also cause heavy bleeding that can be fatal, especially in older people,” Prof Tseng said. Therefore, the task force now argues that adults 60 and older should not start taking aspirin daily to lower the risk of heart attack or initial stroke. “At this point, the high risk of bleeding actually eliminates the potential benefit of aspirin,” the expert said.
It is important to emphasize that the draft recommendations do not apply to people who have had a heart attack or stroke in the past and now take aspirin daily. Even people without a history of heart attack or stroke who are already taking prophylactic doses should not stop without consulting their doctor, according to experts.
It should be noted that this is not the first time that experts recommend revoking the guideline to give aspirin as a preventative treatment. Already in a study published in 2018, the possibility arose that in some cases the risk may outweigh the possible benefit of taking the drug – especially in cases of adults and the elderly without health problems. “We found that aspirin had no distinct benefit in prolonging independent and healthy life for the elderly,” said then.researcher Anne Marie, who is also a geriatric and epidemiologist.
The study involved 19,000 people from the United States and Australia, most of them over the age of 70. Half of them were given one dose of aspirin per day (100 mg), while the other half were given a placebo daily. Five years later, the researchers performed follow.up tests and found that the risk of heart disease or stroke in the experimental group (aspirin) did not decrease compared to participants in the control group. Not only did aspirin not contribute to any medical benefit for those who took it, it was also associated with an “increased risk of significant bleeding” for the older participants, the researchers wrote.
Another study, published in the scientific journal The Lancet, raised the possibility that the effects of aspirin vary significantly based on body weight. In fact according to their findings taking one aspirin a day is only meaningful when the person taking it is under 70 KG.