Daily intake of aspirin for heart attack or stroke prevention should no longer be recommended to patients who have not experienced any of these incidents. That comes from a new study, the researchers on the academic side "Family Practice" have published. Almost a quarter of subjects over 40 said they took aspirin every day, even if they had no history of heart disease or stroke.
No more aspirin for heart attacks
That’s a problem, according to study author Mark Ebell, a researcher at the University of Georgia. “We shouldn’t just assume that everyone will benefit from low-dose aspirin. The data show that the potential benefits are similar to the potential harm most people who have not had a cardiovascular event, ”said Ebell. Aspirin was first found 30 years ago to reduce the risk of fatal and non-fatal heart attacks. Later studies found evidence that aspirin also lowers the risk of stroke and colon cancer.
According to Ebell, consuming the pain pill has always involved risks, namely bleeding in the stomach and brain. So recent studies suggest that the potential harm from taking aspirin for heart attack may outweigh the benefits by today’s medical standards.
“If you look back in the 1970s and 1980s when many of these original studies were done, patients weren’t taking statins to control cholesterol, their blood pressure wasn’t well controlled, and they weren’t being screened for colorectal cancer", he said.
Ebell and colleague Frank Moriarty of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland compared studies of patient records from 1978 to 2002 with four large-scale studies done after 2005, when statin therapy and colon cancer screenings were more common. They found that over five years of treatment for 1,000 patients, there were four fewer cardiovascular events and seven major bleeding events. Ebell was particularly alarmed by the number of cerebral hemorrhages occurring in aspirin users.
“About 1 in 300 people who took aspirin for five years would have a brain haemorrhage. That’s pretty bad. This type of bleeding can be fatal. It can certainly be a deactivation, ”he said. “One in 300 is something that the typical doctor cannot pick up on in their practice. So we need these big studies to understand small but important increases in risk. “
Ebell warned people who are concerned about their cardiovascular risk but have not had a heart attack or stroke. You should talk to your doctors about other ways to prevent a major event from occurring. These days, he said, treatments for blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes are more aggressive. The rate of other risk factors such as smoking has also decreased. There are so many things we can do better now to lower the risk of cardiovascular and colon cancer that aspirin can help with that, he said.
The article “A Comparison Between Contemporary and Older Studies On Aspirin For Primary Prevention” is available online.