Aspirin Myth Busted: It Does Not Prevent Cardiovascular Disease Deaths At All

May 4, 2010

in Health News

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by David Gutierrez
May 4, 2010

Aspirin is unhelpful in preventing heart-related death in those “at risk” of cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in the Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB).

Doctors have long recommended that people who have survived heart attacks or strokes take an aspirin a day in order to reduce their risk of dying from another cardiovascular event. Between 2005 and 2006, however, many health professionals began to recommend the practice in people who had never suffered a cardiovascular event, but who were considered “at risk” to do so – such as those over the age of 50, those with Type 2 diabetes or those with high blood pressure.

“Current evidence for primary prevention suggests the benefits and harms of aspirin in this setting may be more finely balanced than previously thought,” said DTB editor Ike Ikeanacho, “even in individuals estimated to be at high risk of experiencing cardiovascular events, including those with diabetes or elevated blood pressure.”

A recent meta-analysis of six prior studies into the risks and benefits of a daily aspirin in people considered “at risk” of cardiovascular disease found that heart benefits of the treatment were minimal, and were far outweighed by the increased risk of potentially fatal gastrointestinal bleeding.

“For those who do not have heart and circulatory disease the risk of serious bleeding outweighs the potential preventative benefits of taking aspirin,” agreed the British Heart Foundation. “We advise people not to take aspirin daily, unless they check with their doctor. The best way to reduce your risk of developing this disease is to avoid smoking, eat a diet low in saturated fat and rich in fruit and vegetables and take regular physical activity.”

The DTB called for the revision of guidelines on daily aspirin use, and for a review of all patients currently undergoing daily aspirin treatment.

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