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Is Daily Aspirin Worth the Risk?

Author:  Tyler J. Tonso, DC CKTP FMSC

Today there are as many as 40 million Americans who take an aspirin every day.  For decades the FDA has supported the use of daily aspirin in attempt to decrease strokes and heart attacks, but did you know that the FDA recently changed its view on taking daily aspirin for people who have not yet had a stroke or heart problems?

Then vs. Now

The FDA has supported the use of low-dose daily aspirin for years due to its anti-clotting purposes and viewed it as a good source of prevention for strokes and heart attacks. It’s always been known that with daily NSAIDs you run the risk of stomach ulcers or bleeding in to the brain. However, recently the FDA states,

“FDA has concluded that the data do not support the use of aspirin as a preventive medication by people who have not had a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular problems, a use that is called “primary prevention.” In such people, the benefit has not been established but risks—such as dangerous bleeding into the brain or stomach—are still present.”

There is still research that supports the use of daily low-dose aspirin as a “secondary prevention”, meaning if people have had a heart attack or stroke in the past.

What You See Isn’t Always What You Should Get

So how many people do you know who take daily aspirin and haven’t had a heart attack or stroke? Probably a few. People tend to get engrained with a medical thought and simply brush off new ideas thinking, “I’ve been doing it for years and it hasn’t done anything wrong to me so I’m not changing.” We also still see the Bayer commercials advertising how it can help decrease the chances of stroke or heart attack, not knowing that Bayer was actually denied the request to label its bottles with saying it’s a primary prevention of heart attacks and stroke. The FDA responded to the Bayer response saying there is no significant benefit for primary prevention.

Bottom Line

It’s simple, if you haven’t had a heart attack or stroke in the past then you most likely don’t need a daily dose of aspirin, and if you’ve had a heart attack or stroke then it may be helpful to take. Either way, consult your healthcare provider before making any changes and discuss the options with them. Every person has different health issues and changes should be made accordingly.


FDA Consumer Update May 5, 2014

Bloomberg May 5, 2014

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