I assure you. You aren’t alone, if you feel uncertain about whether you should start, stop or continue aspirin.
Once again, the media has reported extensively about studies published in the medical journals. It’s understandable that people are wondering whether we’re about to have a major change in how we practice medicine.
Is aspirin out of fashion and taking it, a waste of money?
Let’s take a deeper look at the facts.
Know your aspirin
I’m not exaggerating when I say that aspirin is one of the most famous, commonly prescribed and well-studied medications in the history of mankind.
Acetylsalicylic acid was named Aspirin more than 118 years ago. Since then, researchers have never stopped searching for new benefits of this great chemical recipe.
Aspirin has several medical indications. However, it has one single most important adverse effect, which is bleeding.
Similar to other disciplines, we know a lot about how to apply research data to our daily medical practice. In other areas, we aren’t so confident.
Who should be on baby aspirin
We’ve enough certainty to suggest aspirin to a population with an established history of heart disease, including individuals with previous heart attacks and peripheral vascular disease. In this population, every individual should be on a low dosage of daily aspirin, unless they’ve a reason not to.
Who should not be on aspirin?
Individuals with an allergy to aspirin or who have had major bleeding after taking it, should avoid taking this medication.
Based on studies, individuals older than 70 years of age or older (65 and older in blacks and Hispanics), who don’t have any history of heart or vascular disease and lack significant risks of acquiring blood clots, shouldn’t be on aspirin.
The researchers found that the benefit of lowering the risk of a first heart attack in this population was low. However, the rate of bleeding caused by aspirin was high. It wasn’t worth the risk of severe bleeding, when the chance of having a heart attack is so remote.
These recommendations are straightforward and shouldn’t be confusing.
We’ll now discuss the population that requires more thoughtful analysis.
What about individuals without established heart disease?
As usual, people who are in the middle of the spectrum, are the most challenging population. This includes relatively healthy individuals without any established heart or vascular disease.
There is no clear evidence that people younger than 50 years of age would benefit from taking aspirin.
Individuals with an elevated risk of acquiring heart disease and who are between 50-69 years of age benefit the most from taking a baby aspirin. This population include smokers, diabetics and people diagnosed with high blood pressure or elevated blood cholesterol.
I hope you now know whether you can stop, start or continue taking baby aspirin. However, before you do so, you should discuss this with your physician. Each case is different and your doctor knows you better than I do.
Aspirin is a powerful and effective medication. However, to benefit the most from it, you must know the facts. You can benefit from a medication and reduce its side effects, if you take the right medication and the right dosage for the right purpose.
It’s now your turn.
Are you on aspirin or planning to start it? I’d like to read your comments. Here is your chance to ask us a question or to tell your story.