For decades, people in their forties and fifties have received the guidance to start taking daily aspirin to prevent heart disease as they get older. However, an influential independent group now says that this long-held recommendation may be outdated for many people.
This week, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force published an updated statement saying that most American adults don’t need to take low-dose aspirin daily at age 50 — or even earlier — in an effort to keep cardiovascular issues at bay. Instead, they say that people in their forties and fifties should take aspirin every day only if their doctors determine that they’re at high risk for heart disease and that the medication won’t increase their risk of bleeding. Additionally, people ages 60 and older are told not to start taking aspirin for prevention at all if they don’t have a history of heart disease and haven’t been instructed to do so by their healthcare provider.
Why the change in the recommendation? The prevailing wisdom has long been that taking aspirin every day prevents blood clotting that can lead to numerous heart ailments, including heart attacks and strokes. However, “it can also cause potentially serious harms, such as internal bleeding,” John Wong, MD, a member of the task force, said to the media. “It’s important that people who are 40 to 59 years old and don’t have a history of heart disease have a conversation with their clinician to decide together if starting to take aspirin is right for them.” Moreover, the task force stresses the importance of not self-medicating.
If you’re already on a daily regimen, you should definitely talk to your doctor about if it makes sense to continue it or if doing so could raise your risk of those other side effects. It’s always a good idea to get that medical opinion!