Story at a glance

  • The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on Tuesday released a draft statement recommending adults 60 and older not to begin taking aspirin to prevent their first heart attack or stroke.
  • The panel said new evidence uncovered since its 2016 recommendations suggests the potential risk of bleeding associated with aspirin outweighs the benefits of preventing heart disease.
  • The panel also recommended adults in their 40s and 50s take aspirin as a preventive measure if a physician determines they are at higher risk for heart disease, but do not have a history of the illness.

Health experts are shifting their guidance on whether older adults should take daily doses of aspirin to prevent heart disease and stroke. 

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on Tuesday released a draft statement recommending adults 60 and older not to begin taking aspirin to prevent their first heart attack or stroke. The panel said new evidence uncovered since its 2016 recommendations suggests the potential risk of bleeding associated with aspirin outweighs the benefits of preventing heart disease. 

The daily use of aspirin can cause bleeding in the stomach, intestines and brain and the chance of bleeding increases with age. 

“Daily aspirin use may help prevent heart attacks and strokes in some people, but it can also cause potentially serious harms, such as internal bleeding,” John Wong, a doctor and Task Force member, said in the statement. 


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The panel also recommended adults in their 40s and 50s take aspirin as a preventive measure if a physician determines they are at higher risk for heart disease but do not have a history of the illness. It’s the first time the task force has advised those in their 40s to consider taking daily aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease. 

“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,” Wong said. 

The new recommendations don’t apply to adults who have already experienced heart attacks or strokes. Health officials still recommend they take aspirin daily as a preventative. 

Previously, the panel recommended low-dose aspirin for those 50 to 59 who have a 10 percent or greater risk of cardiovascular disease but weren’t at risk for internal bleeding. Those 60 to 69 with a 10 percent or greater risk of heart disease were advised the decision “should be an individual one.” 


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Published on Oct 12, 2021