Millions of people pop a daily aspirin to help stave off a stroke or heart attack. This is a proven, doctor-recommended way to protect against a major cardiovascular event in people who already have heart disease or are at high risk. But for everyone else, the painkiller offers little if any cardiovascular benefit — and it may do more harm than good. According to a new study, 12 percent of people taking daily aspirin for heart protection are using the drug unnecessarily and therefore putting themselves at risk for gastrointestinal bleeding and brain bleeds, which, ironically, are a type of stroke.
"Aspirin use should be based on a person’s 10-year risk of having a heart attack or a stroke," says Research study author Salim Virani. "Aspirin should not be prescribed or used if that risk is less than 6 percent." But even 6 percent is a conservative cutoff, he points out, as other guidelines deem aspirin use inappropriate when heart attack or stroke risk is less than 10 percent.
“In these cases, the risk associated with aspirin — bleeding in the gut or brain — far outweighs any potential benefit in terms of prevention of heart attack or stroke,” Virani says. “Aspirin is not a benign drug as is widely believed. It can cause bleeding from the gut, usually from ulcers. Less common but even more concerning is bleeding in the brain. These risks are real and can be life threatening. For people who do not meet the 6 percent threshold, the focus should be on lifestyle modification for prevention instead of aspirin." Virani says the best strategy to assess whether or not you should take aspirin is still to discuss it with your doctor. “Your health care provider can give you a good estimate of your chance of deriving the benefit from aspirin versus your risk of bleeding,” he says.
Source: yahoo health.com