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Does an Aspirin a Day Really Keep the Doctor Away?

Posted by David Cheatham, September 25, 2018

For many years, many older adults have sworn by taking a daily Aspirin. The belief has been founded on the idea that one aspirin per day can prevent a cardiovascular event such as heart attack or stroke, and might also protect against dementia. Recently, a group of researchers set out to discover whether there is any truth to these claims.

The new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, tracked 20,000 healthy adults in the US and Australia for five years. Their median age was 74, and about half of the participants took a daily dose of Aspirin. The other half were given a placebo.

After tracking health outcomes for five years, researchers found no correlation between a daily dose of Aspirin and a reduction in cardiovascular events. Nor was there any correlation with reduced risk of dementia. What they did find, however, was an increased risk of bleeding with serious events.

So, does that mean you shouldn’t bother with a daily Aspirin as a preventive measure? Not quite. The study only followed “healthy” adults, defined as those who had not yet suffered a cardiovascular event such as heart attack or stroke. The head researcher has been quick to point out that if a physician has prescribed a daily Aspirin for you, it’s because he or she feels that the benefits outweigh the potential risks. The results from this study pertain only to adults over 70 who have not suffered a stroke or heart attack. For them, it seems that a daily Aspirin might offer no true benefits, and could even lead to slight risks.

However, you should never begin a regimen (such as daily Aspirin) nor discontinue it, based on one study or one article you read on the internet. Studies must be replicated before we begin to rely too heavily on the truths they seem to uncover. Until we know more, following your physician’s advice is the best way to proceed. He or she knows you best, and understands the complexities of your medical history. We do hope that awareness of this issue will encourage you to broach the topic with your physician at your next checkup, so that together the two of you can decide whether a daily Aspirin regimen is right for you.

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