BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Taking a low-dose, daily aspirin was promoted 30-years ago as a wonder drug that could prevent heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease.
Aspirin therapy is still prescribed for people who had, or are at high-risk for having, a heart attack or stroke because aspirin is a blood thinner.
However, new research has found the risks of stomach bleeding outweigh the benefits in people who are just taking low-dose aspirin for prevention.
According to new research released this week by the Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), 6.6 million Americans take a daily aspirin without a doctor's recommendation.
“Our findings show a tremendous need for health care practitioners to ask their patients about ongoing aspirin use and to advise them about the importance of balancing the benefits and harms, especially among older adults and those with prior peptic ulcer disease,” said lead author Colin O’Brien, MD, a senior internal medicine resident at BIDMC and fellow at Harvard Medical School.
How do you know if you should or shouldn't take a daily low-dose (baby) aspirin?
7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly spoke with Dr. John Canty, Jr., MD from the UB Jacobs School of Medicine and Dr. Eram Chaudhry, MD from Trinity Medical Cardiology (part of Catholic Health) for answers.
According to the two physicians, the new guidelines for people break down into three (3) categories depending on age:
UNDER AGE 40:
"No one under the age of forty (40) should be on aspirin unless there are very unique circumstances," said Dr. Canty.
AGE 40 TO 70
"It should be used mainly in people who are at high-risk for heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular issues," explained Dr. Chaudhry.
OVER AGE 70
"People over age 70 should not be routinely taking aspirin for primary prevention, regardless of risk," added Dr. Chaudhry, who said this recommendation is a new change from what physicians had been doing.
"Don't start aspirin on your own for preventative reasons. And don't stop taking aspirin, if you are already on it, without discussing it with your physician," said Dr. Chaudhry.