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New guidelines for Aspirin use – what do they mean for you?

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New guidelines recently released by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have reversed their long-standing recommendations for preventing a heart attack or stroke in select high-risk patients. Dr. Brent Muhlestein, a research cardiologist from the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute, is informing patients about the new research concerning Aspirin. 

Previous guidelines encouraged older adults to take a low-dose aspirin every day to help prevent a heart attack or stroke. For decades doctors said taking a daily 75 to 100 milligrams of aspirin could prevent cardiovascular problems. Now, the American College of Cardiology has reversed that notion.

“It should be emphasized that these guideline changes only refer to people who, as of yet, have no evidence of heart disease,” emphasizes Dr. Brent Muhlestein.

“Among patients with known heart disease, especially those with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, aspirin is still known to be very beneficial, and in many instances, life-saving.  There are no new changes in existing National guidelines regarding the use of aspirin among patients with KNOWN heart disease.”

This change comes after a clinical trial found daily low-dose aspirin had no effect on prolonging life in healthy, elderly people – and that even at low dosages, long-term use of aspirin might be damaging- without providing any advantage- for older individuals who have not currently had a heart attack or stroke.

The new recommendations said low-dose aspirin should not be given on a routine basis to prevent atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in adults older than 70 or any adult with an increased risk of bleeding.

The AHA and ACC agree that for older adults with low risk- no prior history of heart attack or stroke- the risk of intestinal bleeding outweighs any heart advantage.

Experts say clinicians need to be very selective in recommending aspirin for people without known heart disease. Aspirin needs to be limited to individuals at the highest danger of heart disease and a very low danger of bleeding.

Taking aspirin regularly can increase the risk of bleeding in the intestinal tract, especially for vulnerable people, like those with ulcers. Reflecting the latest data, the new guidelines recommend aspirin only after other heart disease risk factors – including cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, weight and exercise – have been addressed. 

The committee reminded individuals that a healthy way of life is the most crucial method to avoid the onset of atherosclerotic heart disease, cardiac arrest, and atrial fibrillation.

Previously this year, the AHA released a statistical upgrade showing that nearly half of United States adults have some form of cardiovascular disease. The increased threat was mostly connected to high blood pressure.

Almost 80 percent of all heart disease can be prevented with lifestyle modifications, according to the AHA. Doctors recommend routine exercise and following plant-based diet plans such as DASH, a meal strategy that stresses fruits, veggies and whole grains to lower heart disease risk.

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