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Aspirin Use For Preventing Heart Attack Not As High As Expected

Armen Hareyan's picture

Aspirin and Heart Attack

Although taking an aspirin regularly can lower the risk of heart disease, a new study finds that too few adults are using the common pain reliever for prevention.

Past studies have proven that aspirin can prevent a heart attack in people with heart disease and can lower the chances of getting heart disease for people with high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure. So the study researchers set out to learn how many adults in the U.S. are actually using the pill for prevention.

The authors examined responses from 1,299 adults ages 40 and older who took part in a nationwide online survey. The results, which are published in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, were a surprise to the authors. Just 41 percent of the participants said they took aspirin regularly.

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"Based on the broad-scale recommendation for the use of aspirin in at-risk subjects, we expected to see greater than 70 percent utilization rates," said study co-author Steven Weisman, Ph.D., of Innovative Science Solutions in Morristown, N.J.

Weisman and his colleagues also asked whether participants had discussions about aspirin use with their health care providers, and only one-third (33 percent) reported doing so. But, of the 41 percent who took aspirin regularly, 88 percent had talked about it with their doctors. Weisman says this shows doctors can influence aspirin use and that there is a need for better provider-patient communication about aspirin's preventive benefits.

"We have had extensive discussions with doctors related to this issue and found that many find the limited time available during an office visit a barrier to discussing preventative matters," he said.

Frederick Masoudi, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, agreed these types of conversations are important in doctor