12% of patients taking aspirin unnecessarily for heart attack prevention

A new study reveals that many Americans prefer using low dose of Aspirin daily with the expectation that it would reduce the risk of stroke. A report appeared in Philly.Com suggests that around 69,000 adults in US are long term Aspirin users and nearly 12 percent amongst them shouldn’t have been so, found the researchers.

“That’s because their odds of suffering a heart attack or stroke were not high enough to outweigh the risks of daily aspirin use”, said Dr. Ravi Hira, the lead researcher and cardiologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.


Even though it’s been long known that regular use of low dose Aspirin can reduce the risks of further heart attacks in patients who have already suffered one, but this use is never risk-free. And the benefits of aspirin therapy to prevent stroke for the first time proved to be lesser. Also, prolonged use of this drug may lead to severe gastrointestinal bleeding or hemorrhagic stroke, said Dr. Hira.

Their work involved collection of medical data for more than 68,800 patients. The group consisted of people with high blood pressure, but they were yet to develop serious heart disease.

Dr Hira and his team identified through their study that around 12 percent of patients seemed to be on aspirin with no distinct reason; meaning their risks of having heart trouble were not high enough ( at least 6 percent chance of suffering from stroke over the next decade) to justify the long term aspirin use. Hira set this baseline with the recommendations from American Heart Association and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.


Both organizations suggested that for every cardiovascular patient, the physician should consider risk factors such as age, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking and should take them into account while addressing the risk of bleeding.

“Often, the risk of bleeding is higher than the risk of heart attack or stroke,” said Dr. Valentin Fuster, who was not involved in this study. The study also reported that women and younger patients tend to use aspirin more inappropriately. Aspirin should never be taken without proper medical consultation, experts suggested. “Your doctor needs to assess not only your risk of cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Hira said, “but also your risk of bleeding.” This work got published on Jan. 12 online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.