Daily aspirin is being widely prescribed to people who don’t need it, at the price of increased risk of bleeding. About 10% of patients taking daily aspirin at the recommendation of their doctors are on it unnecessarily, according to researchers at Baylor University in Houston.
The guidelines for aspirin use from the American Heart Association and the US Preventative Services Task Force only recommend it to prevent a heart problem for people with certain cardiac risk factors. Despite the specific guidelines, in some doctor’s offices, up to 72% of the patients were prescribed aspirin. More women are inappropriately prescribed aspirin than men.
Even though aspirin is available over the counter, it definitely increases the risk of bleeding, particularly causing bleeding strokes, and bleeding from the stomach or colon. When aspirin is given appropriately to decrease heart disease, it is estimated that when major coronary events are reduced by 18%, it comes at the cost of an increase of 54% of major extra cranial (non-brain) bleeding.
Action item: Discuss the national aspirin guidelines with your doctor to see if you should not be on it.
Frequency and Practice-Level Variation in Inappropriate Aspirin Use for the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease, Insights From the National Cardiovascular Disease Registry’s Practice Innovation and Clinical Excellence, by RS Hira, et al, J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;65(2):111-121.