A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Georgia found that taking baby aspirin every day may not be as effective as many experts once believed.
The researchers found that the pill can help protect against heart disease and stroke for those who have experience with either condition, but it might not have the same preventative powers for consumers who don’t have a history with either one.
“We shouldn’t just assume that everyone will benefit from low-dose aspirin, and in fact the data show that the potential benefits are similar to potential harms for most people who have not had a cardiovascular event and are taking it to try to prevent a first heart attack or stroke,” said researcher Mark Ebell.
Benefits of an aspirin regimen
To understand the effect that aspirin could have on consumers’ overall health, the researchers evaluated both patient records and clinical trials that tested the effectiveness of low-dose aspirin regimens on heart health.
According to the researchers, doctors first began recommending baby aspirin as a way to help their patients keep their heart health under control and prevent conditions like colorectal cancer or stroke; however, current health trends have shifted over the last few decades, and such recommendations could now be associated with negative consequences for consumers.
“If you look back in the 1970s and ‘80s when a lot of these original studies were done, patients were not taking statin drugs to control cholesterol, their blood pressure was not as well controlled, and they weren’t getting screenings for colorectal cancer,” said Ebell.
Health concerns from taking aspirin
In evaluating 1,000 patients who took low-dose aspirin every day for five years, the researchers noted several serious health concerns that consumers should be aware of.
The study revealed that while heart disease-related concerns and strokes went down incrementally among patients taking low-dose aspirin daily, hemorrhages and other major brain bleeds went up, prompting serious concern from the researchers.
These findings mirror those found in a study from last year, which also called into question the effectiveness of regularly taking aspirin, especially when the risk of cardiovascular disease or other similar conditions was so low.
Because of improved protocol when it comes to maintaining healthy blood pressure, which, in turn, can prevent countless cardiovascular episodes, the researchers recommend that patients consult with their doctors before starting an aspirin regimen, especially if they have no such history of stroke or heart disease.
“There are so many things that we’re doing better now that reduce cardiovascular and colorectal cancer risk, which leaves less for aspirin to do,” Ebell said.