Aspirin medical supplies could prevent stroke, heart attacks

The cardiovascular benefits of aspirin medical supplies have long been discussed, but the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has made it official. “Evidence shows that low-dose aspirin use is most beneficial for adults ages 50 to 59 years,” the government-backed panel of independent physicians said in an announcement. “Adults ages 60 to 69 years should decide with their primary care clinician if aspirin use for primary prevention is right for them.” The recommendation does not apply to people with bleeding disorders or at risk of bleeding disorders – which includes people in their 60s.

So who should take aspirin medical supplies, and how often, to prevent a first heart attack or avoid a second?

USPSTF aspiring guidelines

Population

Recommendation

·         Adults aged 50-59 years.

·         10% or greater 10-year cardiovascular disease risk.

·         Not at increased risk for bleeding.

·         Life expectancy of at least 10 years.

·         Willing to take low-dose aspirin daily for at least 10 years.

 Initiating low-dose aspirin use for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and colorectal cancer (CRC).

  • Adults aged 60-69 years.
  • 10% or greater 10-year cardiovascular disease risk.
  • Not at increased risk for bleeding.
  • Life expectancy of at least 10 years.
  • Willing to take low-dose aspirin daily for at least 10 years.

The decision to initiate low-dose aspirin use for the primary prevention of CVD and CRC should be an individual one. Persons who place a higher value on the potential benefits than on the harms may choose to do so.

·         Adults younger than 50 years.

Current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of initiating aspirin use for the primary prevention of CVD and CRC.

·         Adults aged 70 years or older.

Current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of initiating aspirin use for the primary prevention of CVD and CRC.

 

“Some people may benefit from aspirin more than others, which is why there are several recommendations based on age,” USPSTF chair Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo of the University of California, San Francisco said. “As with any drug, patients and their doctors must balance the benefits and risks of aspirin.” People can buy aspirin without a prescription – for example at Discount Medical Supplies – but recent research suggests that at least 1 in 10 people who take aspirin don’t need it. “All that aspirin does if your heart attack risk is really low is cause you harm,” Dr. Steven Nissen, who was a member of an FDA advisory panel that recommended against widespread use of aspirin for primary prevention said.

All things considered, aspirin can be a double-edged sword. “The deal with aspirin is we know we can help some people, and we also know we can hurt some people,” former task force chairman Dr. Michael LeFevre said. “We are moderately certain that the benefits outweigh the harms for men and women ages 50 to 59 who have a 10-year cardiovascular risk of 10% or greater. That is the group we are most confident about.” Two studies from last year reached conflicting conclusions; one found that people who used a daily low dose of aspirin were less likely to have colon cancer, while the other found that people who were taking aspirin for preventive measures were at an increased risk for gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers, and other conditions.

The bottom line is, patients and doctors should consider the pros and cons of using aspirin medical supplies on a daily basis. “You have to look at both sides of the equation,” LeFevre said. “If personal risk for bleeding goes up, that erases the net benefit. The good news is that taking low-dose aspirin can help prevent heart attacks and strokes, and if you take it for five to 10 years it can help prevent colorectal cancer. That's the good news. The bad news is we are also certain taking aspirin on a daily basis increases the risk of bleeds. So it's important to have a conversation with your physician about what's right for you. It's not as easy as just saying, 'I need to take an aspirin.'”

Related: Can long-term aspirin use help prevent colorectal cancer?