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A daily low-dose aspirin has been touted by many doctors in preventing heart attacks. But a new study suggests that it might do more harm than good.
Just the FAQs, USA TODAY

Harvard researchers are advising millions of people who take aspirin every day to prevent heart attacks to stop their daily use.

Some 29 million people 40 and older were taking an aspirin a day in 2017 despite not having a heart disease, the study published Monday found.

The study also found that about 6.6 million of them were using aspirin on their own even though a doctor never recommended it to them. And nearly 10 million people over 70 who don’t have heart disease were taking daily aspirin for prevention, the researchers reported in Annals of Internal Medicine.

The discovery comes after multiple, extensive studies last year found that only a marginal benefit, if any, could be found when taking routine aspirin – especially among older adults. 

Another study also found that taking low-dose aspirin is associated with an increased risk for bleeding within the skull for people without heart disease. 

The studies run counter to what doctors for decades had recommended: a daily 75 to 100 milligrams aspirin to prevent strokes or heart attacks.

“Many patients are confused about this,” said Dr. Colin O’Brien, a senior intern medicine resident at Beth Israel who led the most recent study from Harvard and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. 

Aspirin is out: Here’s how healthy older adults can prevent heart attacks, strokes without pills

The risks of aspirin: Low-dose aspirin may be linked to bleeding in the skull, new study finds

The recent studies prompted the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology to change their guidelines in March:

— People over 70 who don’t have heart disease — or are younger but at increased risk of bleeding — should avoid daily aspirin for prevention.

— Only certain 40- to 70-year-olds who don’t already have heart disease are at high enough risk to warrant 75 to 100 milligrams of aspirin daily, and that’s for a doctor to decide.

The Harvard study shows just how many millions of people that were taking a routine aspirin in 2017 should be