A few years ago, Harvard researchers estimated 29 million Americans were still taking daily low-dose aspirin for heart health.
And a study published earlier this summer found that one-half to 62% of U.S adults 70 and older were still taking the drug every day to reduce their heart attack and stroke risk.
If you, or someone you care about, are in that group, there’s something you should do right away. And that is to give your doctor a call.
It’s time to have a conversation about whether or not you should still be taking a daily aspirin. Because chances are you shouldn’t. And that’s especially true if you’ve never had a heart attack or stroke.
One of the most influential groups in U.S. medicine is finally urging Americans to STOP taking daily aspirin for “primary prevention.” In other words, you shouldn’t be popping those pills to prevent a first heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular problem.
But there IS a catch here, too. If you’re on the drug now… DON’T QUIT!
Not yet anyway. Because, as you’ll see in a moment, aspirin has a built-in self-destruct mechanism that could activate if you stop taking it.
Aspirin therapy is on the chopping block
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force just updated its guidelines to recommend against daily aspirin for many people. Mostly, it comes down to one word: DON’T.
For example, …
- Taking low-dose aspirin or considering it because you’re older and have always heard you should take it past a certain age? DON’T.
- Swallowing that daily dose because you’re concerned about heart disease but haven’t had a problem yet? DON’T.
- Popping that pill (or considering it) because it can supposedly prevent colorectal cancer? DON’T.
- Doing aspirin therapy because you’re at high risk for heart disease but haven’t had a heart attack or stroke? DON’T.
The reason is pretty simple. It’s one I’ve shared with you many times over the years. Most people are far more likely to be hurt by the side effects of daily aspirin than helped by any potential heart benefit.
In particular, the drug is known for causing serious (and, in some cases, severe) internal bleeding problems. These bleeds can show up in the gastrointestinal tract or inside the brain.
Those bleeds can end up being deadly in some cases. And that’s especially true for older folks.
Find a SAFE way off those daily pills
The guidelines don’t officially take effect just yet. And when they do, they say they don’t apply to anyone on the drug already.
But let’s just say they’re really late to this party.
The science has been against daily aspirin therapy for ages. Two years ago, for example, both the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association urged most people to avoid daily aspirin.
So you do want off of this drug as soon as possible. But you also need to keep taking it until you speak to a doctor. Studies show abruptly quitting aspirin can cause a rebound effect that can INCREASE your heart risk.
But that doesn’t mean you’re trapped forever taking this dicey drug. Your doctor can help you quit far more safely by creating a tapering plan designed specifically for you.
And while you have that chat, ask about other proven options for cardiovascular health. Fish oil supplements, for example, have a gentler blood-thinning effect. And in many cases can provide some protection without the danger, especially in folks who don’t get much omega-3 from diet alone.
For more on natural blood thinners, see my earlier report on 5 blood thinning foods to help reduce your risk of blood clots.