Why the ‘Daily Aspirin’ Hype Is Over
The drug’s serious downsides prompt new guidelines. But are people getting the message?
New research and guidelines have overturned decades of common wisdom on aspirin, bringing clarity to who should and should not take a daily low dose to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Yet millions of people pop the pills routinely for protection, often without advice from a doctor and even though it may be doing them more harm than good.
For people with a history of heart disease, aspirin is still commonly recommended as part of a treatment plan. But the medical community has changed its position on whether people who haven’t had heart problems should take the drug daily as a preventive measure.
Based on multiple studies done in 2018, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology issued new guidelines in March 2019 for daily low-dose aspirin use. It’s now advised mostly for people who are known to have heart disease, and only when prescribed by a physician who can run a suite of tests and best determine dosage, along with consideration of other treatment options ranging from exercise and improved diet to other medications, including blood thinners and statins, which lower cholesterol.
“If you’ve never had a heart attack or stroke, you likely should not be taking aspirin to prevent them.”
Otherwise, daily aspirin use should be avoided by healthy people, young or old. “It may actually cause more harm than good,” the panel of 18 experts concluded.
Paul Fritsch, a researcher at the University of Alberta in Canada, and his colleague Michael Kolber, a family medicine professor at the University of Alberta, recently reviewed the same research, and published similar findings in July in the Canadian Family Physician journal. They offer this advice: “If you’ve never had a heart attack or stroke, you likely should not be taking aspirin to prevent them.”
The European Society of Cardiology has not recommended aspirin for prevention of cardiovascular disease in people with no history of it since 2007, formalizing that advice in 2012, according to Massimo Piepoli, an Italian cardiologist and…