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New aspirin recommendations released

Experts: Regular aspirin intake not appropriate for everyone

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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is recommending that many people between the ages of 50 and 59 take aspirin to prevent heart disease and colon cancer.

Despite these new recommendations, Cleveland Clinic experts urge consumers to proceed with caution.

“It’s important to understand that there are risks for aspirin,” said Dr. Steven Nissen, a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic. “Risks of bleeding and even bleeding into the brain.”

The new recommendations are more conservative than those issued in the past, but are still too broad, Nissen said.

They suggest a low-dose aspirin to prevent heart disease and colorectal cancer in adults ages 50 to 59 who have a 10 percent or greater risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years, are not at an increased risk for bleeding, and have a life expectancy of at least 10 years.

Bleeding common

Internal bleeding is quite common with daily aspirin use.

Aspirin reduces the clotting ability of blood platelets and depending on someone’s medical history, regularly using aspirin to prevent heart disease may increase the risk for bleeding in the stomach and brain, which can be life-threatening.

Patients should stop taking aspirin if they're taking it without a doctor’s guidance to prevent cardiovascular problems and have no history of heart disease or heart attack.

What if you have an existing heart condition?

Taking a low-dose aspirin is beneficial for people who already have coronary heart disease, including those who have had bypass surgery, a stent or a heart attack. Even people at extremely high risk for heart disease may benefit, but anyone outside of that realm could be doing more harm than good.

“For most people who have not developed heart disease, taking an aspirin to prevent heart disease is not the right thing to do,” Nissen said.

For individual patients, a doctor will be able to calculate risks and benefits from taking aspirin. Every heart condition is different and every patient’s situation is unique. A doctor will need to know a patient's medical history and weigh the risks.