New aspirin therapy guidelines issued after bleeding concerns

Man in pharmacy reading medication bottle and talking to pharmacist

For years many people have taken a low-dose aspirin tablet every day in an attempt to prevent heart attacks or stroke. Aspirin had been hailed as a low-cost, effective way to thin the blood and, as the thinking goes, reduce the risk of clots that cause cardiovascular problems. But new evidence is emerging that challenges that assumption.

Aspirin regimens aren’t right for everyone

In March 2019, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association (AHA) issued new guidelines1 stating that healthy people without known heart disease or stroke risks should not take aspirin every day. Aspirin taken daily could cause other problems, most notably internal bleeding.

The AHA issued the new aspirin recommendations based on a review of new research. “According to three significant studies published last year and one major analysis released this year that looked at 10 other studies, the benefit from taking a daily low-dose aspirin was offset by the danger of internal bleeding and other side effects in people considered to be at low or moderate risk for heart disease,”2 the organization said on its website.

One study found no obvious benefit from aspirin for healthy people over 70 but did find evidence of harm, according to the AHA. Some doctors might consider advising aspirin for people with a family history of heart disease or if certain tests detect plaque buildup inside their arteries. But most people might be better off focusing on a heart-healthy diet, regular physical activity and control of their blood pressure and cholesterol.3

Sources

  1. “Avoid Daily Aspirin Unless Your Doctor Prescribes It, New Guidelines Advise,” American Heart Association, last accessed May 29, 2019, https://www.heart.org/en/news/2019/03/18/avoid-daily-aspirin-unless-your-doctor-prescribes-it-new-guidelines-advise, opens new window .
  2. “Avoid Daily Aspirin Unless Your Doctor Prescribes It, New Guidelines Advise.”
  3. “Avoid Daily Aspirin Unless Your Doctor Prescribes It, New Guidelines Advise.”