Friday, 26 April, 2019

Does Taking Aspirin Daily Prevent Heart Attacks? Think Again

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Anna Jefferson | 20 March, 2019, 14:35

Sunday's recommendations say low-dose aspirin should not be given to prevent atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease on a routine basis to adults older than 70 or any adult at an increased risk of bleeding.

"Clinicians should be very selective in prescribing aspirin for people without known cardiovascular disease", John Hopkins cardiologist Dr. Roger Blumenthal, who co-chaired the new guidelines, said in a statement. If a person is already in the habit of taking aspirin daily as a preventive measure, it's best to consult a doctor for the best way to quit it, as suddenly stopping can also come with its own set of risks. "It is much more important to optimize lifestyle habits and control blood pressure and cholesterol rather than recommending aspirin".

But anyone who's had a stroke, heart attack, open-heart surgery or stents inserted to open clogged arteries... aspirin can still save their life. Aspirin became increasingly used for the objective of preventing a first heart attack after studies in the 1980s and 1990s showed a benefit.

Blumenthal went on to say more than 80 percent of all cardiovascular events are preventable-but we are falling short in implementing the proper strategies and lifestyle choices to do so. There is still a role for aspirin in other select people.

Instead, the guidelines recommended several behavioral changes to ensure a healthy heart. Another recent study found a similar increase in bleeding cases with no corresponding decrease in cardiovascular emergencies.

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Dr. Chauhan emphasizes that whether you are on an aspirin regimen or not, a healthy lifestyle is important in protection against heart disease, "trying to avoid the red meats and fatty foods, trans fats that are more detrimental to your cardiovascular system (and) obviously avoiding smoking". "This makes the biggest difference, probably negating any previously perceived aspirin benefit in primary prevention".

The use of aspirin in younger age groups "is now a class 2b recommendation", Campbell said, "which means it's not necessarily the best course of action; there's a lot of debate among experts and the data are not definitive", he added.

Nearly 80 percent of all heart disease can be prevented with lifestyle modifications, according to the Heart Association.

Statins may also be indicated for people with "type 2 diabetes and anyone who is deemed to have a high likelihood of having a stroke or heart attack upon reviewing their medical history and risk factors", the AHA and ACC said.

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