Published: Fri, March 22, 2019
Medical | By Mark Scott

An aspirin a day might not keep heart attacks away after all

An aspirin a day might not keep heart attacks away after all

In fact, a 2017 research by Swedish scientists found that those who suddenly stopped taking aspiring had become 37 percent more at risk for stroke and heart attack.

"Clinicians should be very selective in prescribing aspirin for people without known cardiovascular disease", John Hopkins cardiologist Dr. Roger Blumenthal, who co-chaired the new guidelines, said in a statement.

Those who are taking aspirin when it's not necessary could raise their risk of internal bleeding or even early death.

This drastic change in the AHA's guidelines comes after a recent, large-scale study on the subject-the Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) Study, which discovered not only was aspirin ineffective in preventing heart problems, but it actually led to a higher chance of hemorrhage than placebo. It's not necessarily the best course of action, but there's no definitive data that it's helpful or harmful. They come on the heels of studies released past year that said daily low-dose aspirin - 100 milligrams or less - did not help older adults who do not have cardiovascular disease.

"For the most part, we are now much better at treating risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes and especially high cholesterol", said cardiologist Carolina Campbell, who was not involved in the new guidelines. He stressed that optimizing lifestyle habits and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol are more important than taking aspirin. Also, it is recommended that aspirin should only rarely be used to help prevent heart attacks and stroke in people without known cardiovascular disease. "They should still take aspirin", she added.

The choices we make every day can have a lasting effect on our heart and vascular health.

There's more about heart attack prevention at the American Heart Association.

The guidelines stress that statins - along with lifestyle changes such as a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, weight loss and avoiding smoking or vaping tobacco - should be used to prevent heart disease in anyone with LDL levels of more than 190 milligrams per deciliter. And the ACC and AHA note that it should continue to be taken under a doctor's supervision by people who have previously had a cardiac event, or who have been diagnosed with some form of cardiovascular disease.

"If you've already had a heart attack or a stroke, you definitely need to stay on aspirin", said Blumenthal. "Understanding how finest to use aspirin, or any other medication, is the type of refinement that enables our finest health".

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