Aspirin’s blood-thinning properties for years have been touted as a way to stave off cardiovascular disease such as heart attack and stroke. Millions of people in the US take a “baby aspirin” (100mg or less–most commonly 81mg) daily for such prevention.
News coverage of baby aspirin this year has soared after three major articles published in 2018 questioned this widespread practice. The studies showed that daily low-dose aspirin did not, in fact, help older adults who do not have cardiovascular disease and that the benefit in younger people without symptoms of cardiovascular disease was counterbalanced by significant risk of bleeding. Guidelines released this year by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology were changed to reflect that: people over 70 who don’t have heart disease, or are younger but at increased risk of bleeding, should avoid daily aspirin for prevention. Further, only certain 40 to 70 year olds who don’t already have heart disease are at high enough risk to warrant use. Nothing has changed for those who have had heart attacks or stents. Aspirin is still recommended for them unless there is a major history of bleeding.
If you have questions about daily baby aspirin use and whether or not it is right for you, check in with your concierge physician at The Village Doctor. As we continue to develop our understanding of heart disease and stroke prevention as a medical community, there are a few basic prevention strategies that are easier to implement during the summer: take that extra long walk with a loved one, find your favorite fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market, and enjoy the beautiful weather that August has to offer.
Dr. Jennifer Abrams