Aspirin for Heart Attack Prevention: New Guidelines

A recent study conducted by Harvard University and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center brings the practice of taking aspirin daily for heart attack prevention into question. Millions of Americans take aspirin each day, with or without the recommendation of a medical professional.

Daily Aspirin: Discuss With Your Doctor

In fact, the study found that approximately 29 million individuals over the age of 40 took aspirin daily in 2017, even if they didn’t have heart disease. The study also found that about 6.6 million of those individuals never received a recommendation to take aspirin from a doctor, and approximately 10 million Americans over the age of 70 took daily aspirin for heart disease prevention.

Multiple studies last year showed only a marginal benefit (if any) associated with taking aspirin daily, especially for older Americans. And another recent study, published in the JAMA Neurology journal, discovered that taking low-dose aspirin is actually associated with an increased risk for bleeding within the skull for individuals who do not have heart disease.

If you have a family history of heart disease or believe that you might be at risk, be sure to discuss preventative measures with your doctor. If you are taking any over-the-counter medications regularly, share that information with your healthcare provider.

New Guidelines from the American Heart Association

These recent studies contradict a practice that doctors have been recommending for decades, which is taking 75 to 100 milligrams of aspirin each day to prevent strokes or heart attacks. The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology updated their guidelines in March to reflect this new information. Now the recommendation is that individuals over age 70 who do not have heart disease, or those who are younger but at increased risk of bleeding, should not take daily aspirin for heart disease prevention. Patients at high risk for heart disease should discuss whether or not to take 75 to 100 milligrams of aspirin daily with their doctors.

While people who do not have a history of heart problems shouldn’t take aspirin daily, it is still recommended for heart attack survivors.

Prevent Heart Disease

So, what can you do to prevent heart disease? The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology recommend exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco, and maintaining a healthy weight. Eat plenty of vegetables, and avoid sugar as well as trans fats.

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