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Task Force Recommends Using Aspirin to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease When the Benefits Outweigh the Harms
Date:3/16/2009

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Patients and clinicians should consider risk factors -- including age, gender, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking and risk of gastrointestinal bleeding -- before deciding whether to use aspirin to prevent heart attacks or strokes, according to new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. These recommendations do not apply to people who have already had a heart attack or stroke.

The recommendations are published in the March 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The Task Force reviewed new evidence from the National Institutes of Health's Women's Health Study published since the last Task Force review of this topic in 2002, including a recent meta-analysis of the risks and benefits of aspirin and found aspirin may have different benefits and harms in men and women. The Task Force found good evidence that aspirin decreases first heart attacks in men and first strokes in women.

The more risk factors people have, the more likely they are to benefit from aspirin. The Task Force recommends that men between the ages of 45 and 79 should use aspirin to reduce their risk for heart attacks when the benefits outweigh the harms for potential gastrointestinal bleeding. Women between the ages of 55 and 79 should use aspirin to reduce their risk for ischemic stroke when the benefits outweigh the harms for potential gastrointestinal bleeding. Ischemic strokes occur as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain and are potentially prevented by aspirin use. The risk of gastrointestinal bleeding with and without aspirin use increases with age and is twice as high in men as in women. Other risk factors for gastrointestinal bleeding include upper gastrointestinal tract pain, gastrointestinal ulcers, and using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

The Task Force recommended against
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SOURCE Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality
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