An aspirin a day may not keep a heart attack at bay

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on May 6, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 6 at 6:27 PM

DALLAS — With rising rates of obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, millions of adults have at least one risk factor for heart disease.

A consumer update issued by the FDA says that may not be enough to warrant taking an aspirin a day.

According to the FDA update:

“…the data do not support the use of aspirin as a preventive medication by people who have not had a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular problems, a use that is called "primary prevention. In such people, the benefit has not been established but risks—such as dangerous bleeding into the brain or stomach—are still present.”

"We accept that risk in patients who have known disease because we know aspirin can help them,” explained Dr. Parin Parikh, a cardiologist with Texas Health Dallas.

Parikh says he and doctors nationwide may need to reconsider aspirin recommendations for most people.

"Patients with heart disease should definitely continue to be on an aspirin," he said. "But, I think we need to reevaluate whether the low-risk patients that we're putting on aspirin really need to be on that medication."

The FDA advisory was issued after a decision last to week to turn down a request by German drug maker Bayer AG to change package labeling. Bayer wanted to market aspirin’s heart-healthy value in people who have never had cardiovascular disease.

The FDA says aspirin, at the present time, also doesn't show benefit in people who haven't had heart problems or stroke, but do have a family history or other evidence of arterial disease. 

However, there are other large-scale clinical studies being done to investigate aspirin in primary prevention of heart disease and stroke.

Patients who are unsure about the risk versus benefit of low-dose aspirin therapy are advised to consult their doctor.

Email jstjames@wfaa.com

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