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Doctors do not Recommend Aspirin as a Preventive Measure

Update Date: Aug 06, 2014 11:39 AM EDT

A recent review found that taking an aspirin a day could lower the risks of cancer and death from cancer in adults. The researchers of this study concluded that the benefits of taking aspirin as a preventive measure outweighed the cons. Even though a daily regimen of aspirin can be healthy, another recent study found that doctors rarely prescribe it.

In this study, researchers from the University of Rochester headed by Kevin A. Fiscella, M.D., M.P.H, professor of Family Medicine at the University's School of Medicine and Dentistry analyzed data on 3,439 patients who were a part of the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The patients did not have cardiovascular disease. However, based on their 10-year risk score for health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, smoking and use of cholesterol-reducing drugs, they had qualified for preventive aspirin therapy.

The team calculated that 87 percent of men and 16 percent of women could benefit from taking aspirin every day. However, when they were asked, "Doctors and other health care providers sometimes recommend that you take a low-dose aspirin each day to prevent heart attack, strokes, or cancer. Have you ever been told to do this?," only 34 percent of men and 42 percent of women had said yes.

The researchers reasoned that doctors do not prescribe preventive aspirin therapy because of the limited amount of time they have to fully access the risks involved for each patient. Aspirin therapy can lead to severe adverse events such as bleeding and death. The researchers added that doctors are more likely to prescribe medical care when the situation is life threatening. When it comes to preventive care, they become less enthusiastic even if the preventive treatment is recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

The study, "Do Clinicians Recommend Aspirin to Patients for Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease?" was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

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