You May Not Need Regular Aspirin Unless You’ve Had a Previous Diagnosis of Cardiovascular Disease
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an independent, volunteer panel of medical experts focused on improving the health of people, shared new guidelines in April 2022 suggesting people without a previous heart attack or stroke or diagnosis of cardiovascular disease should not take low-dose aspirin daily. These guidelines align with the American Heart Association’s 2019 primary prevention guidelines.
For adults without a prior diagnosis of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, taking a daily low-dose aspirin can lead to an increased risk of internal bleeding, which outweighs any possible heart attack or stroke prevention it may provide, according to research released jointly by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.
Put more simply: taking a daily low-dose aspirin can do more harm than good if you’re not diagnosed with heart or vascular disease.
“Given these new findings, you should not take a daily low-dose aspirin without first clearing it with your doctor,” says Abiodun Ishola MD, Cardiologist with the Florence Wormald Heart & Vascular Institute at St. Elizabeth. “Your physician can look at your medical history and risk factors to determine whether or not the benefits of a low-dose aspirin routine could outweigh the risks for your particular case.”
What If I Have a History of Cardiovascular Disease?
Importantly, the new guidelines do not impact patients with a previous history of coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke or heart surgery. These patients should continue to take low-dose aspirin to help prevent future cardiovascular problems if prescribed by their doctors.
Staying Heart Healthy
To prioritize heart health, make sure you’re exercising regularly, eating well and reducing your sodium intake. Stop smoking if you are a smoker. Find ways to successfully manage stress.
These positive lifestyle steps can help reduce your chance of a potential heart attack or stroke more significantly than even a daily aspirin might.
“Research shows that more than 80% of all cardiovascular events may be prevented by making lifestyle changes,” says Dr. Ishola.
Also, work with your physician to regularly monitor and manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol within healthy limits can help further lessen your risk of future cardiovascular disease.
What Should I Do If I Have Questions About My Heart Health?
Eating well, exercising and reducing your sodium intake are great ways to keep your heart healthy. But if you have questions about your heart health – or if you have concerning symptoms, such as repeated headaches or high blood pressure – make it a priority to talk with a doctor. Schedule an appointment with the cardiologists at Florence Wormald Heart & Vascular Institute by visiting stelizabeth.com/heart or calling (859) 287-3045.