News & Opinion | March 18, 2019 11:45 am

Low-Dose Aspirin for Heart Attack Prevention No Longer Recommended

Those without a high risk for or existing heart disease shouldn’t take it.

Predicting Heart Attacks
New method of reading CT scans could predict heart attacks. (Getty Images)

According to the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, older people who do not have a high risk for or already have existing heart disease are no longer recommended to take low-dose aspirin to reduce their risk of heart attack.

“For the most part, we are now much better at treating risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes and especially high cholesterol,” cardiologist Dr. Kevin Campbell told CNN. “This makes the biggest difference, probably negating any previously perceived aspirin benefit in primary prevention.”

While addressing the issue, Dr. Roger Blumenthal from John Hopkins stated that the focus is on making patients’ overall lives better. “It’s much more important to optimize lifestyle habits and control blood pressure and cholesterol as opposed to recommending aspirin.”

Even for younger people, aspirin has been listed as a class 2b recommendation. That means it’s “not necessarily the best course of action,” Dr. Campbell explained, advocating for a “healthy lifestyle, smoking cessation and risk-factor modification before even considering aspirin therapy” in patients who aren’t already suffering from heart disease or at high risk to develop it.

“Aspirin should be limited to people at the highest risk of cardiovascular disease and a very low risk of bleeding,” Dr. Blumenthal said.

Those who are taking aspirin when it’s not necessary could raise their risk of internal bleeding or even early death.