Docs Back Away From Low-Dose Aspirin for Heart Attack Prevention

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Experts say that adults don't need to take the daily aspirin anymore because it is much easier to directly treat the risk factors for heart attacks and strokes such as hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol.

A new report from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association says the drug "should be used infrequently" for the goal of preventing cardiovascular disease "because of lack of net benefit" for most adults.

And patients deemed "high-risk" with contributing factors such as diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol will also continue to be considered for the daily therapy.

"Aspirin prevents clotting, but on the contrary, it causes a risk of bleeding", said Dr. Uzma Khan, a family physician with McLaren Flint. He stressed that optimizing lifestyle habits and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol are more important than taking aspirin.

For people who have had a heart attack, stroke, open heart surgery or stents placed to open clogged arteries, aspirin can be lifesaving. Doctors recommend routine exercise and following plant-based diet plans such as DASH, a meal strategy that stresses fruits, veggies and whole grains to lower heart disease risk. "For patients without cardiovascular disease, the risks of aspirin, mainly bleeding, are considerable".

"The updated guidelines do not change the recommendation of aspirin in secondary prevention, and demonstrate that there is still a role for aspirin in primary prevention", the company said in a statement.

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Although it's been used for more than a century, aspirin's value in many situations is still unclear. "This makes the biggest difference, probably negating any previously perceived aspirin benefit in primary prevention".

There's more about heart attack prevention at the American Heart Association.

Aspirin did not help prevent cancer as had been hoped.

One study published last fall showed that positive cardiovascular outcomes from an aspirin regimen were "equally balanced by major bleeding events".

No one should start, stop or modify an aspirin regimen without first speaking with their healthcare provider.

In some of the latest studies which have been the largest and longest to test the pennies-a-day blood thinner in people who don't yet have heart disease or a blood vessel-related problem. Healthy eating also means limiting the intake of other things like salt, saturated fats, fried foods, processed meats, and sweetened beverages.

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