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US Panel Warns Against Use of Aspirins to Prevent Heart Attacks, Stroke

The risks of daily use of low dose aspirin far outweighs the benefits, say the US preventive services task force.

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<div class="paragraphs"><p>Low dose aspirin as a preventive treatment for heart attack, stroke a bad idea, says US panel of experts.</p></div>
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A daily regime of low dose aspirin is not recommended for people at risk of heart disease, according to a new set of guidelines released by a panel of experts of the US preventive services taskforce.

The panel says the recommendation has been made on the basis of strong evidence that suggests the risk of using aspirins as a preventive measure far outweigh any possible benefits.

Although aspirin is primarily used as a painkiller, it has been prescribed to people with high blood pressure, survivors of heart attacks, and even as preventive treatment for those at a high risk of heart attacks because of its blood thinking property and ability to lower risks of blood clots.

The new recommended guidelines by the US panel of experts, however, discourages prophylactic use of aspirins, citing the risk of internal bleeding and gastrointestinal ulcers which can be fatal.

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The Panel's Recommendation 

“There’s no longer a blanket statement that everybody who’s at increased risk for heart disease, even though they never had a heart attack, should be on aspirin,” Dr Chien-Wen Tseng, a member of the task force was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

The taskforce is made up of 16 experts who routinely go over evidences from research and literature to do with preventive medication and revise their guidelines accordingly.

The same task force had earlier universally recommended mild aspirins for those over 40 who were at a high risk of having a first heart attack.

The new recommendation is specifically meant for those below the age of 60, including babies who may have been prescribed low dose anelgesics like asprin as a preventive treatment for heart diseases.

Although aspirins do reduce the risk of getting heart attacks, studies have found that it doesn't necessarily reduce the risk of deaths from heart conditions reported the New York Times.

The researchers pointed out that not only did low dose aspirin increase the risk of internal bleeding, it usually happened soon after the person begins the treatment regime.

The guidelines also strongly discourage those over 60 from using aspirin as a prophylactic as their age can higher the risk of related complications, and should only do so after consulting with doctors.

It doesn't, however, apply to those who already suffer from heart conditions, have suffered one or more heart attacks or are already on aspirin.

The panel has also announced that they planned on retracting their earlier recommendation (2016) of prescribing baby aspirin for the prevention of colorectal cancer.

This also isn't the first time that aspirins are being discouraged by experts as preventive medicine.

Back in 2014, the US FDA also concluded that aspirins shouldn't be treated as the go-to preventive treatment for first heart attacks and stroke.

(Written with inputs from the New York Times and NPR)

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