Mar 17, 2009

- An Aspirin a Day Keeps the Doctor Away Indeed

According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the benefit of daily aspirin appears to differ by gender: for men it means fewer heart attacks and in women it reduces the risk of stroke. In other words men over 45 and women over 55 should take a daily aspirin, provided their risk for cardiovascular disease is higher than their risk for internal bleeding.

However Government data shows only 16 percent of adults with multiple risk factors for heart disease take a daily aspirin.
"Subsequent to the 2002 recommendations, there was more information that came out of the Women's Health Initiative, specifically, that enabled us to look at this recommendation by gender," said Dr. Michael LeFevre, a task force member and professor of family and community medicine at the University of Missouri, Columbia. "We have a recommendation for men and a recommendation for women. We did not have that before."

The recommendations, published in the March 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, state among other things that men under the age of 45 and women under 55 who have never had a heart attack or stroke should not take aspirin for prevention; t-risk women aged 55 to 79 should take aspirin if the odds of reducing a first ischemic stroke outweigh the chance of bleeding and men aged 45 to 79 with heart risk factors should take aspirin if the preventive benefits outweigh the risk of bleeding.

A second paper in the same issue of the journal reaffirms the task force guidelines, finding that lower doses of daily aspirin (75 milligrams to 81 milligrams) are equally, if not more effective, than higher doses (100 mg or more) in preventing heart attack and stroke in at-risk individuals.

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