PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – For decades, millions of Americans were prescribed a daily aspirin to improve their heart health. But two organizations which focus on such matters are now rethinking the guidelines. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, experts say that once-a-day aspirin may be doing more harm than good.
It’s been as common as a multi-purpose vitamin for so many of us: take an aspirin every single day. “And it was thought that by the function of aspirin, the thinning of blood, the effect it had on the blood products it would help the heart to not get blockages,” said Commonwealth Health Interventional Cardiologist Michael Rupp, MD.
But now the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association teamed up for a joint statement. It states the majority of Americans using aspirin to prevent a first time heart attack or stroke are at risk for a serious side effect. Dr. Rupp said, “Bleeding is a major complication and factor in patients. It affects their outcomes. It affects their quality of life. It even affects their life mortality in general.”
Those who are now told to discontinue daily aspirin are people over 70, anyone who does not have heart disease and anyone at risk for bleeding. The new guidelines are a result of three large studies that determined not only did aspirin not prevent heart attacks and strokes in older adults, but also it raised their risk of stomach and brain bleeding. Dr. Rupp said, “Treating coronary disease is much more of a lifestyle and a life function than just taking a pill and hope it doesn’t come back.”
Dr. Rupp says it’s more important to control such things as cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. As for someone currently taking aspirin? “There are absolute indications where aspirin is necessary in patients that have heart disease. So, you should never stop it unless your physician, your cardiologist tells you to do so.”
The underlying findings are proof that just because aspirin is over-the-counter doesn’t mean it’s harmless.