Americans over 60 years old should not take a daily dose of aspirin to ward off a first heart attack or stroke, a panel of top doctors said today in a deviation from standard guidance.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), which is comprised of 17 top experts from universities across America, released the update, citing a slightly higher risk of internal bleeding after taking the drug.
It also said 40 to 59-year-olds must only take the medication daily if they are at a genetic risk of heart disease and after consulting a doctor. Those over 75 should not take the drugs because there is little benefit in older age.
“Based on current evidence, the task force recommends against people 60 and older starting to take aspirin to prevent a first heart attack or stroke,” Dr. Michael Barry, USPTF’s vice-chair and professor of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, told ABC News. “Because the chance of internal bleeding increases with age, the potential harms of aspirin use cancel out the benefits in this age group.”
Doctors still recommend using aspirin to protect against a second stroke or heart attack. The guidance is only for patients beginning a course of aspirin, and not for those already taking it. They said no one should stop taking aspirin without consulting with their doctor or a medical professional first.
“It is important for the public to understand that for the vast majority of Americans without pre-existing heart disease, aspirin does not provide a net benefit,” Dr. Steven Nissen, cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, said. “The harms are approximately equal to any benefits.”
“The USPSTF is just catching up with this widely accepted scientific viewpoint. For nearly 20 years the FDA has advised against routine use of aspirin for prevention in patients without heart disease.”
People who take the drug are at about 0.47 percent higher risk of suffering internal bleeding, a British study published in 2019 found.
The USPSTF warned heart disease was the leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for more than one in four fatalities every year.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
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