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U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Encourages Broader Aspirin Use to Prevent Heart Attack and Stroke
Date:3/17/2009

n reducing events among older Americans.

Today's recommendations add support for broader appropriate uses of aspirin and do not affect the already FDA-approved indications for prevention of recurrent heart attack and stroke, as well as reduction of the risk of death when taken during a suspected heart attack. Further, it's important that those on doctor-recommended aspirin treatment regimens do not stop taking aspirin without consulting with their doctor as research shows that aspirin withdrawal actually puts patients at higher risk for a cardiovascular event.(ii)

"Aspirin is a potent weapon in our war against heart attacks and strokes -- the number one and number three killers in the U.S. -- but, like all drugs, it can have risks. The USPSTF recommendations underscore the importance of clear and balanced discussion of aspirin between clinicians and their patients, no matter what their age," said Michael Gaziano, MD, Cardiologist, Brigham and Women's Hospital and VA, Boston. "I'm hopeful these recommendations will encourage productive discussion so more of the right patients can benefit from aspirin." Dr. Gaziano stresses that patients should not modify their aspirin use unless otherwise directed by their doctors.

The preventive benefits of aspirin have been broadly advanced by many health organizations, with emphasis on the potential personal and public health benefits of its broader appropriate use. It has been widely reported that aspirin is underutilized and that aspirin counseling and appropriate use would reduce the burden of heart attack and stroke. In fact the Annals editorial authors state, "Aspirin continues to be underused, and the routine incorporation of the USPSTF's recommendations into the daily practice of clinicians will no doubt increase the use of aspirin and, in turn, prevent many thousands of cardiovascular events every year."(i)

The American Medical Associatio
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