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Aspirin no longer advised to stop first heart attack: US researcher explains

15 October 2021 5:36 PM
Tags:
Heart attack
Aspirin
Myocardial infarction

Texas University Dept of Internal Medicine's Dr Amit Khera, involved in the research, speaks to John Maytham.
  • New findings have resulted in a shift in the longstanding advice for those 60 and older to take daily aspirin to ward off a heart attack
  • The research suggests that the bleeding that may result from daily aspirin dosing far outweighs the protection
  • This guidance does not apply to those who have had a heart attack or stroke events, insists Prof Khera

© lightfieldstudios/123rf

Aspirin and similar compounds have for years been recommended to prevent a first heart attack, but new research has revealed that this is no longer advisable. It may, in fact, cause more harm than good.

John Maytham finds out more from one of the 16 experts involved in the research, Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas, Dr Amit Khera.

The US expert panel, appointed by the US Department of Health and Human Services, on Tuesday recommended that those 60 and older should no longer take a daily dose of aspirin to stave off a first myocardial infarction or heart attack.

The risks of bleeding from regular aspirin dosing outweigh any protection, they have found.

The US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) reviewed all the literature and downgraded it saying we should be a little bit more restrictive, not saying we should eliminate the use of aspirin, but that we should be more restrictive.

Professor Amit Khera, Department of Internal Medicine - University of Texas

This advice does not apply to those who have experienced those events, he emphasises.

I patients who have had a heart attack or stroke, stents, or bypass surgery...this guidance does not apply.

Professor Amit Khera, Department of Internal Medicine - University of Texas

What the more recent studies have shown is that aspirin does still lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes but not quite as much as it used to and part of the reason may be that we are doing better with smoking and blood pressure.

Professor Amit Khera, Department of Internal Medicine - University of Texas

But here's what we have really seen in the last few trials - bleeding. Everyone thinks taking Aspirin is no problem but it actually increases bleeding significantly, and we're talking about bleeding requiring transfusions and bleeding in the brain, not just a nose bleed.

Professor Amit Khera, Department of Internal Medicine - University of Texas

For most people, the recent studies show, you are going to cause more bleeding than heart attacks and strokes you avoid.

Professor Amit Khera, Department of Internal Medicine - University of Texas

However, there are vulnerable people at risk of heart attacks and strokes and they should speak to their medical practitioner.

There are some people where we still recommend aspirin. People who are at higher risk for heart attack and stroke...there could be a strong family history of heart attacks...there are heart scans one can do...that is a conversation with one's practitioner on an individual basis.

Professor Amit Khera, Department of Internal Medicine - University of Texas

We see a lot of young healthy people who have always just heard that aspirin is good and take it, and they could probably have many more bleeding problems than heart attacks they avoided.

Professor Amit Khera, Department of Internal Medicine - University of Texas



15 October 2021 5:36 PM
Tags:
Heart attack
Aspirin
Myocardial infarction

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