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People Should Stop Taking Aspirin as a Preventive Measure

Update Date: May 07, 2014 12:47 PM EDT

Some people believe that a daily regimen of aspirin can protect them from heart attack and stroke. Even though this might be the case for some patients, a new study is reporting that taking an aspirin a day is not a safe routine for everyone. According to the latest research, people who do not have a history of heart attack, stroke or heart disease should not be taking aspirin as a preventive measure.

"Since the 1990s, clinical data have shown that in people who have experienced a heart attack, stroke or who have a disease of the blood vessels in the heart, a daily low dose of aspirin can help prevent a reoccurrence," Dr. Robert Temple, deputy director for clinical science at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said according to Philly.

The FDA reviewed a wide array of studies to examine the pros and cons of taking a daily dose of aspirin. The agency found that for people with a history of heart problems, taking aspirin as prescribed by a doctor could help reduce risk of future cardiovascular events. For people without a history of heart problems, however, taking aspirin everyday could end up being more detrimental than helpful. The FDA reported that one serious side effect of taking aspirin is internal bleeding.

"After carefully examining scientific data from major studies, FDA has concluded that the data do not support the use of aspirin as a preventive medication by people who have not had a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular problems, a use that is called 'primary prevention," the FDA concluded reported by the New York Daily News.

Aspirin has been tied to reducing heart attack risk because it lowers the activity of the blood's clotting cells known as platelets. Less clumping action translates to fewer blood clots. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends people with a high risk or a history of heart attack to take a low-dose of aspirin each day. Even if the association recommends this regimen, the agency and experts stress the importance of discussing individual risk with one's doctor.

Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a UCLA cardiologist and a representative for the AHA, commented, "It's really important that before anybody initiates an aspirin regimen - and most critically before any individual considers discontinuing their aspirin regimen - that they speak specifically to their physician who knows their medical history and can help them make a better informed decision about balancing potential risks and benefits."

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