Medicine

Check with your doctor before starting, stopping daily aspirin regimen

Check with your doctor before starting, stopping daily aspirin regimen

- For decades doctors have said a low-dose aspirin a day could prevent a heart attack or stroke in adults who have never had one, but now, they're reversing that recommendation.

Sunday's recommendations say low-dose aspirin should not be given to prevent atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease on a routine basis to adults older than 70 or any adult at an increased risk of bleeding.

According to the 2019 Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease guideline from the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA), it is recommended that aspirin should only rarely be used to help prevent heart attacks and stroke in people without known cardiovascular disease.

"Low-dose aspirin for primary prevention [is] now reserved for select high-risk patients", according to the guidelines.

A co-chair of the new guidelines said, "It's much more important to optimize lifestyle habits and control blood pressure and cholesterol as opposed to recommending aspirin".

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.

However, personally, Campbell says, he "would advocate a healthy lifestyle, smoking cessation and risk-factor modification before even considering aspirin therapy in a patient without known cardiovascular disease". "For people who haven't had heart attacks that that risk of bleeding is probably more than the risk of saving you from having a heart attack".

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Even though there's clear evidence aspirin works for this objective, many physicians and patients have been reluctant to follow the recommendations because of the risk of rare but potentially fatal internal bleeding.

Aspirin continues to be the cornerstone treatment for the prevention of secondary cardiovascular events (secondary prevention). Aspirin is not recommended especially if patients have a high risk of bleeding.

Find out more about the new guidance in the video above.

Engaging in regular physical activity, avoiding tobacco and focusing diets on "vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, lean vegetable or animal protein, and fish", were included in the new guidelines as important lifestyle choices for reducing risk of cardiovascular disease. Strive for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking and swimming, the guidelines say.

"When we look at the evidence it actually might not be the best thing for people who haven't had a heart attack and we will likely use it in a small number of people".

One study published last fall showed that positive cardiovascular outcomes from an aspirin regimen were "equally balanced by major bleeding events".