WASHINGTON: A US government expert panel said Tuesday it no longer recommends a daily dose of aspirin to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people aged 60 and over. People aged 40-59 who are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease but have no history of it, should consult with their doctor and make an individual decision on whether to start taking the medicine.
The statement was a major reversal in the US medical field, where taking aspirin daily is a widespread practice. The medication thins blood, helping prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. Since 2016, the Preventive Services Task Force, a government medical expert panel, has recommended a daily dose of aspirin for people in their 50s who have a 10 percent or greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years.
The panel also said at the time that for at-risk people in their 60s, the decision to take aspirin should be an individual one. But for several years, studies have questioned those recommendations. On Tuesday, experts said that aspirin’s benefits were not enough to offset the increased risk of bleeding, especially in the brain or intestines, in older people.
“Daily aspirin use may help prevent heart attacks and strokes in some people, but it can also cause potentially serious harms, such as internal bleeding,” said Task Force member John Wong. “It’s important that people who are 40 to 59 years old and don’t have a history of heart disease have a conversation with their clinician to decide together if starting to take aspirin is right for them.”
These new recommendations are not yet final. They will be open to public debate until early November. They also do not apply to patients taking aspirin after suffering a stroke or heart attack, the statement said. An estimated 600,000 Americans suffer a first heart attack, and about 610,000 a first stroke. Taking aspirin to reduce this risk of heart disease is often a spontaneous decision for many Americans. According to a 2017 study, 23 percent of adults aged 40 and over who don’t have cardiovascular disease took aspirin as a preventive measure, of whom 23 percent did so without a doctor’s recommendation. – AFP