According to a study reported online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, many Americans are unnecessarily prescribed low-dose, long-term aspirin and are using it inappropriately in an attempt to prevent a first-time heart attack or stroke. The lead researcher on the study, a cardiologist at Baylor College of Medicine, says that the odds of patients suffering a first-time heart attack or stroke were not high enough to merit risking the adverse effects of taking daily aspirin.
Aspirin can have serious side effects, including gastrointestinal bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises people against using aspirin long-term to prevent a first-time heart attack or stroke, but it cannot make recommendations that apply to everyone.
The study looked at 68,800 patients of 119 different cardiology practices around the country who had high blood pressure but had not developed heart disease. Researchers concluded that around 12 percent of adults that are prescribed aspirin probably should not have been, saying their risk of heart problems and strokes was less than 6 percent, and did not outweigh the risks of aspirin therapy. The researchers note that the overall rate of misuse may be higher than what is found in the study because many people use daily aspirin without a doctor’s prescription or recommendation.
It is important for doctors to not only consider patients’ risk factors for cardiovascular problems, including age, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking, but to consider patients’ risk of adverse effects, like bleeding, from daily aspirin. For example, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force states that people with a history of stomach ulcers have up to three times the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding compared with people who have never had an ulcer.
The researchers recommend discussing with your doctor all of the potential risks associated with taking daily aspirin even if you have a high risk of cardiovascular disease. You should consult your medical provider before making any changes in your medications, including aspirin therapy. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury as a result of misleading drug information or an incorrectly prescribed medication, consider contacting a medical malpractice attorney at Lopez McHugh for a free consultation. Our prescription medication lawyers can answer your legal questions confidentially.