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Low-Dose Aspirin to Prevent First Heart Attack or Stroke? Not So Fast
Date:1/10/2012

nd inexpensive, people assume there is really very little risk, and while the risk is small, the benefit in a lower-risk population is not as great as we once thought."

It comes down to weighing your risks versus your benefits, explained Berger, who was not part of the study team.

American Heart Association spokesperson Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of the Women's Heart Program at the NYU Langone Medical Center, agreed.

"It is very important [for patients] to talk to their doctor about whether or not [aspirin] is appropriate," she said. "If you have heart disease, prior heart surgery or chronic chest pain due to clogged arteries, this study is not about you," Goldberg stressed.

"Some people may have heart problems they don't know about or multiple risk factors where the risk of bleeding may not outweigh the benefit, so they need to work with their doctor to get this straight," Goldberg said. "Heart disease risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, [being] poor, family history of heart disease and smoking. These can add up and place an otherwise healthy individual at moderate or elevated risk for heart disease."

Also commenting on the study, Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. and president-elect of the American Society for Preventive Cardiology, said that the decision to start taking low-dose aspirin as primary prevention is highly individualized. But if you are already taking low-dose aspirin as primary prevention, he said, "do not stop. Talk to your doctor and at least go over the pros and cons."

Dr. Samia Mora, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, wrote a journal editorial accompanying the new study. "For individuals without evidence of heart or vascular disease, it is an individualized decision that should be discussed with their physician or health care provider since it is a matter of weighing the risks and benefits
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