Aspirin for seniors to ward off heart attacks or heart disease is no longer recommended by doctors.
Heart disease includes conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, and stroke. Cardiovascular diseases are the leading causes of death and disability among senior citizens in the United States.
In the past, experts recommended taking a low-dose daily aspirin for preventing heart disease. It helps thin the blood to prevent blood clots. Several studies showed that aspirin can help some people prevent a second heart attack or stroke. So, with all of these health benefits, why have doctors changed their minds? The answer is that taking aspirin also also comes with a higher risk of bleeding.
Aspirin: Few Benefits, High Risk For Seniors
Insofar as senior citizens are concerned, new research found very few benefits and an increased risk of bleeding from daily aspirin use. Therefore, the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology (ACC) updated their guidelines in March 2019.
They no longer recommend aspirin for heart disease prevention in adults aged 70 and older, or for those with a higher risk of bleeding. An example of such a group would be people suffering from stomach ulcers.
In reality, how many seniors actually do take it daily to ward off heart disease? Recently, to answer this question, a survey by researchers at Harvard University asked over 14,000 men and women, age 40 to 85, whether they’ve ever been prescribed a daily low-dose aspirin by their doctor. Another question was whether they choose to take it on their own for heart disease prevention.
The results were interesting. Of the people who didn’t have heart disease, 23% were taking it daily for prevention. Another 23% took it without a health care provider recommendation. Nearly 50 percent of the survey participants, aged 70+ with healthy hearts, reported daily use. And 25% of people who had a history of stomach ulcers, but no heart disease, also used it.
These results show that 29 million people who don’t have heart disease take aspirin daily for prevention And 6.6 million people do so without a health care provider recommendation. Self medication is often times dangerous — and for seniors, that is especially true.
The AHA believes that there is a pressing need for health care practitioners to ask their patients about ongoing aspirin use. They should advise seniors about the negative consequences of taking it on a daily basis.