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The Daily Aspirin Tug-of-War

Aspirin has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack in people who have already had one. But what if healthy people took a daily aspirin to prevent heart issues to begin with?

Aspirin is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that helps reduce inflammation that can trigger a heart attack. Prior to 2014, many doctors recommended that those at higher risk for heart trouble - family history, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetic, etc. - over age 50, and not at increased risk of bleeding begin taking a low dose of aspirin every day.

However, in 2014 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deemed that preventative dosages of aspirin in otherwise healthy people produced more risk than reward. Aspirin can irritate stomach and intestinal tissues, which may lead to ulcers and intestinal bleeding.

There was a push back from the American Heart Association (AHA) and U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), a government- appointed panel of health experts. Although agreeing that daily aspirin use came with risks, both groups continue to recommend its usage for those who have not yet had a heart attack, but are at higher risk for one, and meet the other criteria.

A recent study conducted by the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine backs the AHA and USPSTF. However, those who add years to their life by being free of heart disease will be more likely to develop cancer, diabetes, and other age-related diseases. The side effects of intestinal bleeding warrant further study as well.

The bottom line: Talk to your family doctor about the issue. Don't make arbitrary decisions on your own based off a drug label

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