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Gov't stresses benefits of aspirin therapy

March 16, 2009 3:21:22 PM PDT
A United States government task force is strengthening its recommendations on aspirin therapy as a way to reduce heart disease and strokes. The influential United States Preventive Services Task Force reports that aspirin effectively decreases heart attack risk in middle-age men and stroke risk in middle-age women.

Experts say most seniors should be taking daily low-dose aspirin unless they are at high risk for internal bleeding.

The task force now finds compelling evidence that taking a daily aspirin is advisable for men over 45 and women over 55 - provided their risk for cardiovascular disease is higher than their risk for internal bleeding, which is a rare but serious complication of aspirin treatment.

Studies show daily aspirin reduces heart attacks in men and strokes in women with risk factors for heart disease, such as older age, diabetes and high cholesterol or blood pressure levels.

But according to government data, only 16 per cent of adults with multiple risk factors for heart disease are taking aspirin therapy.

The task force did not address one big remaining question about the best dose of aspirin to take to prevent heart attacks or strokes - many experts believe that a baby aspirin is ideal because it is effective against heart disease while carrying a lower risk for internal bleeding.


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