FDA warns about taking daily aspirin
According to new recommendations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a daily aspirin regimen may not be beneficial for healthy people without a history of heart attack or stroke.
Aspirin has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of “heart attack, clot-related strokes and other blood flow problems” in people with heart disease or those who have previously had a heart attack or stroke, based on FDA recommendations.
“I think it’s clearly beneficial for secondary prevention when the patient has already had one type of heart event, such as a heart attack, a stent, or stroke and the goal is to reduce their risk for subsequent events,” says Dr. Syed Hasan, cardiologist on staff at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois.
When used for primary prevention in healthy people, Dr. Hasan acknowledges that the risks of taking a daily aspirin might outweigh the benefits. Long-term aspirin use can result in many serious side effects, including gastrointestinal irritation and bleeding, kidney failure, certain kinds of strokes, and although rare, bleeding in the brain.
“For healthy people there might be a small benefit to a daily aspirin regimen, but there’s also an equal or greater risk of bleeding,” Dr. Hasan explains. “Aspirin may be readily available over the counter, but it’s not completely benign. The net gain is so small that it may not be worth the risk.”
The FDA also does not recommend a daily aspirin regimen for healthy people with a family history of heart attack or stroke. While Dr. Hasan agrees with the recommendations, he acknowledges that every person is different. For example, people with a strong history of heart disease, such as a parent or sibling who had a heart attack at a young age, would likely benefit from a daily aspirin.
“If a patient’s parent or sibling has had a cardiac or stroke-type event under the age of 50, then he or she is likely at higher risk,” Dr. Hasan says. “It may be reasonable to consider taking a daily aspirin regimen in this case. Since each person is different, talking to your primary care physician is key.”
A daily aspirin might also be beneficial for people who have had longstanding diabetes, he notes.
“These recommendations are not firm and should be tailored to the individual patient,” Dr. Hasan says. “For people who want to take preventive action to prevent a heart attack or stroke, they should talk to their primary care physician to determine if a daily aspirin regimen is right for them.”
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