Older adults without heart disease should not take low-dose aspirin daily to prevent a first heart attack or stroke, an influential health guidance group said in a preliminary update on Tuesday.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says in its draft guidelines that the risks of bleeding for adults 60 years and older who have not had a heart attack or stroke far outweigh the potential benefits of aspirin.
For the first time, the panel said there could be a small benefit for adults over the age of 40 who are not at risk of bleeding. For people in their 50s, the panel softened the advice, saying the evidence of benefit was less clear.
The recommendations are for people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity or other conditions that increase their chances of having a heart attack or stroke. Dr. John Wong, a member of the Tufts Medical Center’s primary care specialist task force, said adults, regardless of age, should talk to their doctors about stopping or starting aspirin to make sure it is safe for them. Is the right choice for
Aspirin use can cause serious harm, and the risk increases with age.
If finalized, the advice for older adults will reverse the recommendations of a panel released in 2016 that helps prevent heart attacks and strokes in the first place, but will follow recent guidelines from other medical groups. ۔
Doctors have recommended low-dose aspirin daily to many patients who have already suffered a heart attack or stroke. The guidance of the task force does not change this advice.
The task force had previously said that daily aspirin could protect some adults from colorectal cancer in the 50’s and 60’s, but the latest guidance says more evidence of any benefit is needed.
The guide was posted online to allow public comment until November 8.
An independent panel of disease prevention experts analyzes medical research and literature and periodically advises on measures to help keep Americans healthy. New studies and re-analysis of old research have encouraged the latest advice, Wong said.
Aspirin is known as a painkiller, but it is also a blood thinner that can reduce the chances of blood clots. But there are also dangers of aspirin, even in small doses – mainly bleeding in the digestive tract or ulcers, both of which can be fatal.
“Guidance is important because many adults take aspirin even though they have never had a heart attack or stroke,” said Dr. Lorraine Block, an intern-researcher at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhattan, New York.
Block, who is not part of the task force, recently switched one of its patients from aspirin to a cholesterol-lowering statin due to potential harm.
The patient, 70-year-old Richard Schraffel, has high blood pressure and is aware of the risks of his heart attack. Sharafil, president of the Paper Board Distribution Business, said he had never been affected by aspirin, but he was taking the new guidelines seriously.
Rita Seifieldt, 63, also has high blood pressure and has been taking aspirin daily for almost a decade until her doctor told her to stop two years ago.
“He said he changed his mind about it,” recalled a retired elementary school teacher from Milwaukee. She said she believes science is evolving.
Wong acknowledged that retreating could leave some patients frustrated and wondering why scientists can’t make up their minds.
“It’s a fair question,” he said. “It’s really important to know that the evidence changes over time. ”