Changes to recommendations for aspirin as primary prevention from heart disease

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 5:53 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 15, 2021 at 6:16 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - For decades, doctors have recommended that older adult patients take a low dose of aspirin daily, as a primary preventative measure against heart disease and stroke.

Now, a study done by the United States Preventative Services Task Force shows that once people turn 60 years old, they should not consider starting to take aspirin, because the risk of bleeding cancels out the benefits of preventing heart disease.

Dr. Kanna Posina, an Interventional Cardiologist at the Rapides Regional Medical Center, weighed in on the new guidelines.

“It can increase your risk for bleeding, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract, and also in your brain. The risk gets higher as you get older, so people that are at risk for heart attacks are also at risk from having these complications from aspirin,” said Dr. Posina. “The key is to understand that you should still consult your physician to discuss what the risk-benefit ratio is for you. So, if the benefits outweigh the risk then you should still take it. Aspirin is primarily for primary prevention, which means you have never had heart disease and you’re trying to prevent developing any heart disease.”

While the guidelines have shifted, aspirin is still recommended for some patients.

“If you’ve already had a heart attack or stroke and are trying to prevent a second event, for those patients you should definitely be on aspirin and should continue aspirin unless your physician says that you no longer benefit from it,” said Dr. Posina.

Region Six Office of Public Health Director Dr. David Holcombe said those thinking of starting to take aspirin as a preventative measure, should instead focus on creating healthy habits to prevent heart disease and stroke.

“Maintain a normal body weight, most Louisianans are either obese or overweight, and if you have diabetes and or hypertension you need to make sure those are controlled, and if you’re smoking you need to stop,” said Dr. Holcombe.

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