A daily low dose of aspirin can offer important protection against cardiovascular disease, but University of Florida researchers say that the people who could receive the most benefit from the medication may not be taking it. A UF study found that only 40 percent of people who were at high risk of cardiovascular disease said they received a doctor recommendation for aspirin therapy, while one-quarter of people at low risk reported their doctors told them to take the drug.
[Photo: Dr. Arch G. Mainous III]
The results appeared July 14 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends aspirin use to prevent heart attack and stroke in men age 45 to 79 and women age 55 to 79 when the benefit outweighs the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, a possible side effect of regular aspirin use.
“Cardiovascular disease is a significant problem in the United States and the appropriate use of prevention strategies is particularly important,” said Dr. Arch G. Mainous III, the study’s lead investigator and chairman of the department of health services research, management and policy at UF’s College of Public Health and Health Professions. “Aspirin has been advocated as a prevention strategy but only for certain patients. There are health risks associated with the treatment. It is important that doctors are directing the right patients to get aspirin for cardiovascular disease prevention.”
Other studies have examined whether people at risk of heart attack or stroke were taking aspirin, but the UF study is the first to explore whether a person had received a doctor’s recommendation for aspirin.