Healthy people who take aspirin every day to prevent heart attacks later in life can cause more harm than good, according to a recent study.
For decades, aspirin has been used to treat heart patients, stop infarcts and strokes. But very healthy middle-aged people take aspirin pills as an "insurance policy" against heart problems.
According to Daily Mail, a major new study, with data from over 160,000 individuals, concluded that the risk of large internal bleeding significantly outweighs the benefit of aspirin in those without heart disease.
The study, led by experts at King's College in London, provides more and more evidence that aspirin is no longer needed for primary prevention, a term for treating patients without heart problems.
The researchers found that the risk of heart attack in healthy patients taking aspirin decreased by 11%, with a 43% increased risk of bleeding. Which means that 265 people will need to take aspirin for 5 years to prevent a heart attack or stroke, but one in 210 will suffer major bleeding.
"This study shows that there is insufficient evidence to recommend aspirin for the prevention of heart attacks and strokes in people without cardiovascular disease," said Shin Zheng, a research scientist in cardiology.
Patients with diabetes
The team found that the picture is more complicated for diabetics who are more likely to have heart disease and are often prescribed aspirin.
The use of aspirin requires discussion between the patient and his doctor, knowing that all potential small cardiovascular benefits are balanced against the real risk of severe bleeding.
"These guidelines do not recommend giving aspirin to people who have no cardiovascular disease and blood system," said Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation. While aspirin reduces the risk of heart attack and strokes, every benefit is beyond the risk of severe bleeding.