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Study: Aspirin does not benefit older people

For older, healthy people over 70 the risk of risk for serious and potentially life-threatening internal bleeding may outweigh the benefits.

Aspirin has been in news a lot lately.

You might have seen the headlines saying it causes cancer and might not be effective at warding off heart attacks.

A New England Journal of Medicine study is casting doubt on the widely held belief that taking a daily dose of aspirin can help ward off heart attacks and might even cause serious side effects.

Millions of people take small doses of aspirin, like a baby aspirin, every day to reduce their risk of having a heart attack or stroke. There is good evidence that taking aspirin can help people with known cardiovascular problems, but doctors were unclear if healthier-people benefited.

Researchers studied over 19,000 people 65 years old and older in the U.S. and Australia. The results were recently published in three papers in the New England Journal of Medicine.

There is still strong evidence that a daily baby aspirin can reduce the risk that many people who have already suffered a heart attack or stroke will suffer another attack. And there is some evidence that daily low-dose aspirin may help people to avoid a heart attack or stroke who are at risk and younger than 70 years old. But for older, healthy people over 70 the risk of risk for serious and potentially life-threatening internal bleeding may outweigh the benefits.

These results are raising serious questions in the medical community. However ,the last thing doctors want you to do is to stop taking your medication.

“The bottom line is aspirin if it’s taken as its supposed to be taken is beneficial," said Dr. Abe DeAnda, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery UTMB Galveston. "It's specific mechanism of action is as an anti-platelet agent so yes it will contribute to bleeding because that's how it works, that is what its supposed to do. Its also an anti inflammatory and its also an anti-oxidant.”

If you are still concerned about your health, check in with your doctor.

Then it’s time to go and sit down with your doctor and reevaluate aspirin and maybe all of your medications and as yourself, "What am I taking that's right for me?"

Review the risks and benefits of what you are taking. Dr. Abe DeAnda said when it comes to aspirin, it's a matter of getting the maximal absorption of the drug, and the quickest way of getting aspirin into your system is by chewing it.

So If you think you are having a heart attack, chew an aspirin, drink warm water and get to a hospital emergency room.