More than half of older Americans take aspirin daily
More than half of middle-aged adults and seniors in the United States take aspirin daily to prevent stroke, heart attack, and other serious illnesses.
Study lead author Craig Williams, a pharmacotherapy specialist at Oregon State University in Portland, said most adults appear to begin a daily aspirin regimen after consulting with a health care provider.
"We would really advocate that patients engage in those discussions with their primary provider or a cardiologist, if they have one," Williams said. "We don't advocate patients make their own decisions about whether they should use aspirin or not, because it does have some dangerous side effects and it's not for everyone."
Dr. Robert Bonow, a professor of cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, helped write guidelines issued by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) that recommend the use of low-dose or “baby” aspirin to prevent a second heart attack or stroke.
“If 100 percent were taking it, I'd be really concerned," said Dr. Bonow. "Fifty percent in this age group seems appropriate to me, considering their risk factors.”
Dr. Bonow also said there was overwhelming data supporting that every person who has had a heart attack or stroke should take aspirin daily, and that it reduces the risk of a second heart attack by 25 to 30 percent.
According to the study, among 2,509 respondents, 52 percent reported current aspirin use. Among 2,039 respondents without a history of cardiovascular disease, current aspirin use was 47 percent.
Forty-nine percent of respondents reported high cholesterol, 49 percent reported hypertension, and 61 percent reported either current or previous smoking, all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The American Heart Association advises against taking aspirin during a stroke. Not all strokes are caused by blood clots – some are caused by ruptured blood vessels – and taking aspiring could potentially make those bleeding strokes worse.