Should You Reconsider Taking a Daily Aspirin?

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Man taking a daily aspirin
Syda Productions /

An aspirin a day might keep some heart troubles away, but it could invite another health risk, according to new findings.

Taking low doses of aspirin raises the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding by 47%, and increases the risk of intracranial bleeding by 34%, according to a review of research published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

The new findings echo those of earlier studies that found a link between daily aspirin use and a higher risk of severe internal bleeding.

The recent study also contained some positive findings. It notes researchers have concluded that patients without cardiovascular disease who follow a regimen of low-dose aspirin use have a 17% lower incidence of cardiovascular events — including nonfatal heart attacks and strokes — and cardiovascular-related deaths.

The review’s authors noted that at this time, there is not enough evidence to reach conclusions about additional potential health impacts related to taking aspirin on a regular basis.

Should you take a daily aspirin?

The mixed news about the impact of low doses of aspirin might leave you unsure whether taking a daily aspirin is the right thing for you. As we have reported in the past, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggests daily aspirin therapy if you:

  • Are age 50 to 59
  • Are not at increased bleeding risk
  • Have an increased risk of heart attack or stroke of 10% or greater over the next decade

However, not everyone agrees.

Last year, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology established new guidelines for taking a daily aspirin. They urged most people to avoid taking aspirin daily as a preventive measure unless their doctor prescribes it, with the AHA noting that such a practice “may actually cause more harm than good.”

Dr. Erin Michos, who helped develop the new prevention guidelines, said:

“We’re talking about healthy people who don’t have known heart disease or stroke, who might have been considering or already taking an aspirin to prevent that heart attack or stroke in the first place.”

The AHA notes that daily aspirin use still can make sense for patients at higher risk of cardiovascular illness, including those who:

  • Already have had a stroke or heart attack
  • Have undergone bypass surgery
  • Have undergone a procedure to insert a stent in their coronary arteries

Before taking aspirin on a daily basis, consult with your physician to see if such a regimen is right for you.

For more on staying healthy as you age, check out “7 Deadly Health Mistakes People Make After Age 50.

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