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. They come on the heels of studies released a year ago that said daily low-dose aspirin - 100 milligrams or less - did not help older adults who do not have cardiovascular disease. With the recent changes in the cardiovascular guidelines by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA), Bayer realizes there may be confusion around the appropriate use of aspirin.
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 AHA and ACC stressed that daily aspirin does have an important role to play for people at high risk - those with a prior history of heart attack, stroke or cardiac procedures such as stenting or open heart surgery.
"My whole life growing up you saw the take an aspirin a day to prevent a heart attack and that's how most of us thought, but we are re-thinking about it now", Doctor Troy Leo said.
Even for younger people, aspirin has been listed as a class 2b recommendation.
There's more about heart attack prevention at the American Heart Association.
In one study, people who took daily aspirin had a 0.38 percent lower absolute risk of heart attacks, strokes or deaths from cardiovascular events than people not taking this drug.
"Clinicians should be very selective in prescribing aspirin for people without known cardiovascular disease", Blumenthal said. "Ultimately, we must individualize treatment for each patient, based on their individual situation".
Aiming for and keeping a healthy weight - for people who are overweight or obese, losing just 5 to 10 percent of their body weight (that would be 10-20 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds) can markedly cut their risk of heart disease, stroke and other health issues.
Another tested aspirin in people with diabetes, who are more likely to develop or die from heart problems, and found that the modest benefit it gave was offset by a greater risk of serious bleeding.
Aspirin did not help prevent cancer as had been hoped.
In this guideline, ACC/AHA experts offer science-based guidance that aspirin should only rarely be used to help prevent heart attacks and stroke in people without known cardiovascular disease. "They are receptive to that", she said.
"My advice for anyone who is already on aspirin to not stop it yet".