Low-Dose Aspirin a Risk for Healthy Adults

After a few days of indulging in rich foods and likely a movie binge or two, older adults might be starting to image their arteries hardening as they read today’s news.  But healthy seniors should keep in mind that taking a daily low-dose aspirin is no longer recommended for people without a history of heart disease and new research finds that more harm than good may be caused, especially for adults with a bleeding risk. 

According to a recent AARP Health report, the American Heart Association no longer recommends that adults who have not had a heart attack or stroke take a daily low-dose aspirin as prevention for a cardiovascular event.  Because aspirin thins the blood, preventing clotting, it can also increase the risk for bleeding in the brain and the gut.  In fact, a recent review of research, published in Family Practice, found that among 1,200 study participants, a low dose daily aspirin regime for 5 years will result in 4 fewer major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) and 3 fewer ischemic strokes but would also lead to 3 more intracranial hemorrhages and 8 more major bleeding events. 

Therefore, aspirin should no longer be recommended as primary prevention for cardiovascular disease.  If you are taking aspirin and don’t have a history of heart attack or stroke, do not stop taking the drug until you have talked with your doctor; there may be another reason for the regime.  

The advice to take a daily low-dose aspirin to prevent a heart attack or stroke was common before the widespread use of statin drugs to lower cholesterol and better control over high blood pressure.   Lifestyle changes are also key in preventing heart disease and stroke; adults should get at least 150 minutes each week of moderate exercise, limit alcohol, stop smoking and eat a healthy diet with plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein. 

Learn more about lifestyle changes to prevent heart attack and stroke by following this link to the American Heart Association.