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Revisiting The Protective Benefits Of Aspirin

December 10, 2009

According to a lengthy report on theheart.org, a website of WebMD, people taking a daily aspirin as a preventive measure may want to reopen the conversation about aspirin’s benefits with their doctor. According to the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) update earlier this year aspirin is typically recommended for preventing myocardial infarction in men age 45 to 79 and preventing stroke in women 55 to 79, when the benefits outweigh the gastrointestinal risks on an individual-patient basis. But, as theheart.org points out, “some experts, including regulatory groups abroad, worry that key messages on aspirin's potential harms are just not getting through to physicians and their mostly healthy patients who, for years, have taken an aspirin a day to keep heart attack at bay…A steady stream of studies have warned against aspirin use in some of the key primary-prevention populations, including patients with asymptomatic atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, and peripheral artery disease.” Despite these studies, the definitive verdict is still not in, but several major randomized trials of aspirin in primary prevention are ongoing, and the USPSTF has let it be known that if the results differ significantly with current recommendations, those recommendations will be appropriately revised. Until then, review your risks with your doctor and see if the merits of taking aspirin are worth its risks.