Aspirin’s Groundbreaking News: May Do More Harm Than Good

Premier Health Now

Millions of older adults take a daily low-dose aspirin to help prevent heart attack and stroke. But according to three recent studies, the aspirin could be doing more harm than good.

Premier Health Now asked Mukul Chandra, MD, from Premier Cardiovascular Institute about the findings and if they might change the way aspirin is prescribed. He called the news groundbreaking, indicating the studies “have busted the assumption that people who have high blood pressure, who have diabetes and high cholesterol, can take a baby aspirin every day and prevent their risk for heart disease.” This is especially true for adults over the age of 70.

With aspirin once touted as a wonder drug, Dr. Chandra says “these studies tell us a daily aspirin could be dangerous if you don’t have an underlying heart condition.” Side effects found by researchers include substantial bleeding, mostly in the gastrointestinal tract and in the skull, some causing hospitalization and even death.

The studies (one followed 20,000 participants for nearly five years) found no reduction in the incidence of dementia, which was believed to be a benefit of a daily low-dose aspirin for older adults.

For people with heart disease, however, the findings are different. “It’s still a very important drug, an absolutely life-saving drug for people with heart disease. It’s just not something that can be taken to prevent heart disease in the first place,” Dr. Chandra explains.

The findings will not only change the way Dr. Chandra prescribes aspirin, he says, but will change the recommendations of cardiologists around the world. People without a heart condition or a stroke who are taking a daily aspirin should consult with their physician, he recommends.