October 12 (News) – People aged 60 and over should not start taking aspirin daily to prevent heart attacks and strokes due to an increased risk of internal bleeding.
“Taking aspirin every day can help prevent heart attacks and strokes for some people, but it can also potentially cause serious damage such as internal bleeding,” said Dr. Task force member John Wong in a press release.
“It is important that people 40 to 59 years of age with no history of heart disease have a discussion with their doctor to help them determine whether it is right for them to take aspirin,” said Wong, director of clinical decision-making at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.
The task force is an independent, voluntary body of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine, which makes recommendations on disease screening, counseling and preventive medication.
Heart disease and stroke are among the leading causes of death in the United States, accounting for about a third, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Smoking and being overweight or obese can increase a person’s risk for heart disease.
While taking aspirin every day has been shown to lower a person’s risk of a first-time heart attack or stroke, it can also cause bleeding in the stomach, intestines, and brain, recent studies suggest.
The likelihood of bleeding increases with age and can be life-threatening, the task force researchers said.
Approximately half of older adults in the United States use daily aspirin therapy, although research has found that the over-the-counter drug only reduces the risk of heart disease in some users.
Based on new research, the Task Force revised its 2016 recommendations on taking aspirin to suggest that people after age 60
This recommendation only applies to people who are at higher risk for heart disease, have no history of heart disease, and are not already taking aspirin daily, according to the task force.
Those currently taking aspirin should speak to their doctor about their individual circumstances, the task force report said.
In general, the decision to start taking aspirin to prevent a first-time heart attack or stroke should be based on age, risk of heart disease, and risk of bleeding, it said.
The latest data also shows a better balance of the benefits and risks of taking aspirin daily than previously thought for people in their fifties, the task force said.
Additionally, it may be beneficial to start taking aspirin by the age of 40, it said.
The draft recommendations have been posted on the Task Force’s website for public comment.
“The latest evidence is clear: starting daily aspirin therapy in people 60 years and older is not recommended to prevent a first-time heart attack or stroke,” said Dr. Chien-Wen Tseng, member of the task force, in a press release.
“This task force recommendation does not apply to people who are already taking aspirin for a previous heart attack or stroke – they should continue to do so unless their doctor tells otherwise,” said Tseng, professor of family medicine and community health at the University of Hawaii .