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Millions of Seniors Ignore Updated Aspirin Guidelines, Study Shows Big Hazards

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Clear Facts

  • Despite potential hazards of internal bleeding, a significant portion of older adults continue to take aspirin, according to a recent study.
  • Previously, aspirin was encouraged for individuals above 60 to prevent heart attacks or strokes, but the guidelines were changed starting in 2018 due to the risks outweighing the benefits.
  • As of 2021, around 18.5 million seniors were still using aspirin, with 3.3 million doing so without any medical consultation.

Potential risks surround our elders, with approximately a quarter of them still consuming a drug that may cause internal bleeding, as indicated by recent research. For many years, aspirin was recommended for individuals over 60 in the US to prevent heart attacks or strokes.

However, starting in 2018, the medical community started to reconsider this advice. Those who had not suffered from the aforementioned conditions were found to have risks associated with the drug. The negative effects of the drug, including intestinal or brain bleeding, seemed to outshine the potential benefits.

Despite a decrease in aspirin usage in this age group following the changed recommendation, the research found that as of 2021, about 18.5 million seniors were still using it. Alarmingly, nearly 5% of the over-60 population, or 3.3 million people, were using the drug without any professional medical advice.

“Aspirin continues to be recommended for people over 60 who have already suffered from a heart attack or stroke because it can reduce the risk of a second occurrence by approximately 25 percent.”

Aspirin, a cost-effective drug that can be as cheap as nine cents per tablet, works by thinning the blood, thereby reducing clot formation. This lowers the chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke as patients are less likely to develop clots that could cause blockages in the brain or heart.

However, doctors warn that the medication also increases the risk of internal bleeding. It affects the ability of factors in the blood to clot and control a potentially severe bleed. Bleeds usually occur in the stomach or intestines and can be life-threatening due to the intense loss of blood, potentially leading to shock, damaging crucial tissue, or disrupting the supply of nutrients and oxygen to vital parts of the body. In some cases, bleeds also occur in the brain and can be fatal in rare instances.

A recent study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, analyzed data from 180,000 patients aged 40 and older about their aspirin use from 2012 to 2021. The information was collected from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an annual survey of 35,000 adults about their health habits.

Researchers at Creighton University, Nebraska, and Houston Methodist University, Texas, examined the data to estimate aspirin use among individuals in their 60s and older. They found that in 2021, 18.5 million people without cardiovascular disease were using preventative aspirin, with 3.3 million of those not having a recommendation from their doctor.

In 2018, healthcare officials began discouraging the use of the drug to prevent a first heart attack or stroke after three clinical trials warned about potential risks. The American College of Cardiology changed its guidelines in 2018, and the American Heart Association followed suit in 2019, advising that seniors over 70 who had not yet had a heart attack or stroke should not take aspirin. In 2022, the US Preventive Services Task Force agreed, recommending that those over 60 should not take aspirin to prevent a first heart attack.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. charles

    June 28, 2024 at 10:34 pm

    Full aspirin or baby aspirin dose?

  2. John

    June 28, 2024 at 10:58 pm

    The article could be very misleading in that it fails to mention the aspirin dose. Why is such incomplete gibberish purveyed as expert advice? It’s at best someone’s opinion, when it omits what matters of fact, DOSAGE.

  3. Camille Gilliam

    June 29, 2024 at 1:44 am

    Why not recomend Krill oil for blood clots?

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