Taking aspirin to avoid heart attacks? Risks may outweigh benefits

Taking aspirin to avoid heart attacks? Risks may outweigh benefits

SUNDAY, March 17, 2019 (HealthDay News) - Millions of aging Americans anxious about heart attacks and strokes have for years popped a low-dose aspirin each day, thinking the blood thinner might lower their risk.

"This makes the biggest difference", he said, "probably negating any previously perceived aspirin benefit in primary prevention".

Instead, Dr. Blumenthal says aspirin should be prescribed to patients with a high risk of cardiovascular disease with a low risk of bleeding. European guidelines recommend not using anticoagulant therapies such as aspirin at any age. The medical organizations made the revised aspirin recommendation as part of a new set of "primary prevention" guidelines for people who have not been diagnosed with heart disease.

Blumenthal said that it is more important to change lifestyle and dietary habits, alongside regular physician consultations, to manage blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.

The new guidelines were released on Sunday.

It estimated that if 10,000 people took low-dose aspirin every day for a year, four fewer would suffer a heart attack or stroke than if none of the 10,000 had taken aspirin, while seven more would suffer serious bleeding in their skull, brain, stomach or gut. "Ultimately, we must individualize treatment for each patient, based on their individual situation".

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American heart disease experts are the latest to question the long-accepted wisdom of taking a daily aspirin to ward off heart attacks. At worst, it may raise their risk of internal bleeding and early death. "For patients without cardiovascular disease, the risks of aspirin, mainly bleeding, are considerable".

"Weight, so weight is one of the risk factors, smoking, so someone can quit smoking or cut down as much as possible, high blood pressure if it is, then get that treated and keep it under control". LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein and is the "bad" cholesterol that clogs arteries and leads to heart disease.

Eating heart healthier - choosing more vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains and fish, and limiting salt, saturated fats, fried foods, processed meats and sweetened beverages; specific eating plans like the Mediterranean, DASH and vegetarian diets are reviewed. Then tack on another 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise, such as running and circuit training.

Aspirin will still be recommended for those experiencing a heart attack or stroke, or at risk of recurrence, due to its ability to prevent blood clots.

First-line medication should include metformin, the guidelines say.

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