Taking a low-dose aspirin every day to prevent a heart attack or stroke is no longer recommended for most older adults, according to guidelines released Sunday.
After doctors said for decades that a daily 75 to 100 milligrams of aspirin could prevent cardiovascular problems, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association reversed that idea.
A large clinical trial found a daily low-dose aspirin had no effect on prolonging life in healthy, elderly people and actually suggested the pills could be linked to major hemorrhages.
Sunday's recommendations say low-dose aspirin should not be given to prevent atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease on a routine basis to adults older than 70 or any adult at an increased risk of bleeding.
“Clinicians should be very selective in prescribing aspirin for people without known cardiovascular disease,” cardiologist Roger Blumenthal said in a statement. "It’s much more important to optimize lifestyle habits and control blood pressure and cholesterol as opposed to recommending aspirin."
Only select people with a high risk of cardiovascular disease and low risk of bleeding might continue using the painkiller as a preventive measure, as told by their doctor, Blumenthal said.
The ACC and AHA say regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco and eating a diet rich in vegetables and low in sugar and trans fats are among the best ways to prevent cardiovascular disease.