Millions of Americans take an aspirin every day with the aim of improving their health, but doctors say many of them are doing more harm than good. Conventional wisdom once held that a daily low-dose aspirin helped ward off heart attacks and strokes by thinning the blood. But as a release at ScienceDaily explains, that changed last year when three new studies showed that for many people, the risks—including ulcers and brain bleeding—outweigh the benefits. The problem is that old habits apparently die hard. A new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds that 29 million people age 40 and older were taking a daily aspirin even though they have no heart disease. What's more, 6.6 million of those people were doing so on their own, without a doctor's recommendation, per the AP.
"We found that one-quarter of adults 40 and older who don't have heart disease are taking aspirin regularly," says study co-author Christina Wee of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, per Reuters. "And more concerning, one-half of adults over age 70 who don't have heart disease or stroke are taking aspirin regularly." (The latter group amounts to 10 million people, per ScienceDaily.) The upshot, says Wee, is that anyone currently taking aspirin as a preventative should talk to their doctors about the new guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology:
- Daily low-dose aspirin is still recommended for those who've had a heart attack or stroke.
- Those older than 70 who don't have heart disease shouldn't take aspirin as a preventative.
- For those age 40 to 70 who don't have heart disease but are at high risk, an aspirin might make sense—but only if a doctor decides so.
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