According to preliminary updated advice by an influential group of health experts, older adults who are not suffering from heart disease should not take aspirin daily to prevent a stroke or heart attack.
The draft guidance was posted online TuesdayThe U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. While it is not as clear-cut as previous advice, the panel now aligns itself with other medical organizations.
Aspirin can cause bleeding problems in people over 60, according to the panel. However, the panel recommends that aspirin be used by adults in their 40s to prevent bleeding if there are no bleeding risks.
This new recommendation, according to the group, is for those who are at greater risk for heart disease, have no previous history, and don’t take daily aspirin.
“The latest evidence is clear: starting a daily aspirin regimen in people who are 60 or older to prevent a first heart attack or stroke is not recommended,” says Task Force member Chien-Wen Tseng, M.D., M.P.H., M.S.E.E. “However, this task force recommendation is not for people already taking aspirin for a previous heart attack or stroke; they should continue to do so unless told otherwise by their clinician.”
No matter your age, it is important to talk with your doctor about whether you want to stop or start daily low-dose aspirin. When deciding whether patients should start taking daily aspirin, the task force says clinicians should consider age, heart disease risk, and bleeding risk, as well as the person’s values and preferences.
“While daily aspirin use has been shown to lower the chance of having a first heart attack or stroke, it can also cause harm,” wrote the task force. “The most serious potential harm is bleeding in the stomach, intestines, and brain. The chance of bleeding increases with age and can be life-threatening.”
According to the task force, heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in America. They account for approximately one third of all deaths.