Aspirin and Heart Health: What Happened to These Old Friends?

Aspirin and the prevention of heart attacks: it’s just one of “those things” we all know and have come to accept without hesitation.

Aspirin’s beneficial role in heart health has been in the public consciousness for so long it’s become one of those “go-to” preventative measures, like taking vitamin C and echinacea for the common cold.

So it came as a surprise when, in October 2021, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) pulled a 180° and updated its guidelines to recommend that doctors shouldn’t put patients at high risk of heart disease on a daily dollop of low-dose aspirin. 1

What happened? What changed? And what should we do now?

Recommended Grain of Salt when Digesting News

It’s never wise to read a news headline, form a conclusion, and suddenly revamp important health decisions. Let’s take a closer look at this change.

First, it’s crucial to note that the USPSTF’s recommendations are in draft form. That means the group’s advice is still under consideration and should not be taken as irrefutable.

Also—whether this is important to you or not—USPSTF recommendations are independent of the U.S. government, and, straight from the source’s mouth, “should not be construed as an official position of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”

All that Aside, What Changed so Suddenly?

Actually, this isn’t so sudden. Aspirin as a preventative measure was downgraded three years ago by The American Heart Association (AHA).

The American Heart Association updated its own guidelines in August 2019, stating that, without first talking to your doctor, “you should not take daily low-dose aspirin on your own” because the “risks and benefits vary for each person.” 3

What changed? Simply put: the costs outweighed the benefits.

Due to the blood-thinning nature of aspirin, a bevy of complications can brew when ingesting too much. The AHA points out several preexisting conditions that heighten the risk of complications, such as:

  • Aspirin allergy or intolerance
  • Are at risk for gastrointestinal bleeding or hemorrhagic stroke
    • Aspirin can cause stomach bleeding on its own, and significantly worsen already existent bleeding problems
  • Drink alcohol regularly
    • Alcohol is its own blood-thinner and should never be combined with aspirin. Besides that, alcohol overuse / abuse is saddled with a variety of stomach problems, including stomach cancer.
  • Are undergoing any simple medical or dental procedures
  • Are over the age of 70

Should You Throw Out All Your Aspirin?

Well, uh, no. (Are you in the habit of doing that anyway?)

Taken in moderation, aspirin is still a safe and effective pain reliever. Just because it’s no longer recommended to take for heart health doesn’t mean all its uses are void.

Besides, here are a few extra pinches of salt to take with this news:

Narrow Application

Besides, the USPSTF’s updated recommendations only apply to new cases without a doctor’s supervision / orders. The guidelines do not apply to those already taking aspirin, or those who’ve already suffered a heart attack.

For the 60+ Crowd

When you breach the age of 60, you have an increased risk of life-threatening bleeding problems. With that in mind, the USPSTF is “strongly discouraging” anyone 60-years-old or beyond from starting a low-dose aspirin regimen. 4

What Now? Simple!

It’s been said many times before.

And it should go without saying.

But we’re saying it anyway.

Checking with your doctor ought to be the very first thing you do any time you make any changes to your health regimen.

If the above-mentioned risk factors don’t necessarily apply to you—i.e., you’re under 60 years old with no serious bleeding or heart issues—and just don’t want to wait on the phone with your doctor’s office, give your PHMP Health Coach a call—1-855-498-4643—or shoot ’em an email. We can help you decide next steps, even if, in the end, the ultimate recommendation is … talk to your doctor.

946 Comments
  • Dana Shobe
    Posted at 13:10h, 22 February

    Thank You

  • adam s duke
    Posted at 09:23h, 22 February

    Thanks

  • Jerry Gilbert luster
    Posted at 18:45h, 21 February

    Thank you very much

  • Robert Hanssen
    Posted at 13:36h, 20 February

    Thanks!!

  • Rowena Badenhorst
    Posted at 17:28h, 19 February

    Great information

  • Henry Jeffries
    Posted at 01:24h, 19 February

    Good information and reminder

  • Shirley Gregory
    Posted at 00:44h, 19 February

    Thanks

  • Inge Lindstrom
    Posted at 22:01h, 18 February

    Thanks

  • Wendy Nelson
    Posted at 20:39h, 18 February

    Very informative Wendy

  • Amy Courtney
    Posted at 14:44h, 18 February

    Thank you

  • Antoinette Reese
    Posted at 12:05h, 18 February

    None

  • Lisa garrett
    Posted at 11:50h, 18 February

    Ty

  • Derrick Devon Johnson
    Posted at 19:14h, 17 February

    Thank you

  • Salvatore
    Posted at 18:57h, 17 February

    I honestly was not aware of the change about aspirin. Good nto know.

  • Guy Palermo
    Posted at 11:43h, 17 February

    Thank you for the great info!

  • Margaret+Grimm
    Posted at 00:03h, 17 February

    Thank you

  • Sharon Coleman
    Posted at 16:05h, 16 February

    Thanks

  • Cynthia Wadsworth
    Posted at 15:06h, 16 February

    Read. Thank you

  • Melanie Coan
    Posted at 14:21h, 16 February

    Great article!

  • Jennifer Yancey
    Posted at 10:15h, 16 February

    thanks!

  • Donna Millman
    Posted at 08:53h, 16 February

    Great information

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