While many of our health conversations correctly focus on Covid-19, there are other health developments to discuss with your healthcare provider.
What is behind the change? How does this affect you if you are already taking aspirin? Who should consider taking aspirin?
CNN: Many people take aspirin as harmless. However, there seems to be a risk.
Dr. Liana Wen: That’s right. It is important to remember that virtually all medications and treatments carry risks. For aspirin, one of the possible side effects is an increased risk of bleeding. This is a major reason why the National Task Force recommends changing guidance, especially for older people. Older people are at increased risk of falling, and taking aspirin can increase the risk of bleeding in the brain if someone falls and hits the head. People taking aspirin also have an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.
CNN: Is there still any benefit to taking aspirin daily?
Wen: absolutely. Studies have consistently shown that regular use of aspirin reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.
The question with aspirin and all drugs is whether the benefits outweigh the risks. There is no single, universal answer.
It is clear that some people are at high risk of heart attack and stroke. The use of aspirin continues to be recommended for these people, especially those who have had a previous heart attack or stroke. Some people may be at high risk. For example, people who are predisposed to high blood pressure, diabetes, and other cardiovascular diseases. On a case-by-case basis, aspirin may still be recommended, depending on someone’s age and other circumstances. Then there are people on the other side of the spectrum who may have bleeding disorders and probably shouldn’t take aspirin.
I think the Task Force is trying to say that people shouldn’t assume that they need to take aspirin. You need to carefully weigh the risks and benefits.
CNN: What if someone is taking aspirin now? Should they quit?
Wen: No. First, these are the proposed recommendations. They are currently undergoing a comment period and final recommendations are scheduled for November. Currently, the recommendations have not been officially changed.
Second, the authors of the draft guidelines specifically state that people should not stop aspirin if they are already taking it. There may be risks associated with abrupt discontinuation of drugs containing aspirin.
CNN: Do I need to talk to my doctor about whether I should take aspirin?
Wen: Yes of course. It is always reasonable to discuss with your doctor about the medicines you are taking.
Most importantly, make sure your doctor is aware that you are taking aspirin. Because aspirin is an over-the-counter drug, patients often do not say they are taking it unless specifically asked. Make sure your doctor knows that you are taking aspirin, and other non-prescription medications or diets and herbal supplements.
If your doctor is the one who recommended you aspirin, you can still have a conversation. Make sure you understand why you are taking it. As with ongoing reassessment, it is always a good idea to discuss the risks and benefits of all drugs. Just because something has been recommended to you before does not mean that it is always correct, especially when your medical situation or clinical guidelines change.
CNN: What if I take aspirin occasionally, such as when I have a headache?
Wen: Many people take aspirin or aspirin-containing products for headaches and other occasional illnesses. Again, it’s important to let your doctor know that you are taking it from time to time. There may be better treatments, and aspirin may interfere with the other medications you are taking — for example, if you are taking other anticoagulants, or if you are For example, if you have a stomach ulcer, it is not recommended to take aspirin.
However, in general, the recommendations are not intended for people who take aspirin from time to time. They are aimed at people who take aspirin daily and believe that doing so prevents heart attacks and strokes. Again, some people need to do this, others don’t.
CNN: What if I haven’t started using aspirin yet? Should you postpone before picking up the bottle at the store?
Wen: Talk to your doctor before starting aspirin. Many people start taking aspirin because they think it’s time to take aspirin at a certain age. Instead, I think that’s the most important point from the change in guidelines. Aspirin is a drug like any other drug. Risks and benefits should be carefully considered and considered with the healthcare provider.
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