New aspirin recommendation can help prevent heart attacks and strokes among many adults

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A new recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) underscores the value of regular aspirin use in preventing heart attacks and strokes among many adults, the head of Partnership for Prevention said today.

The USPSTF found that regular aspirin use reduces first heart attacks in men and first strokes in women. The recommendation applies to men between the ages of 45 and 79 and to women 55 to 79. Aspirin should be used when the benefits outweigh the harms for potential gastrointestinal bleeding.

"Encouraging doctors to discuss daily aspirin use with their patients is an important way to help people live longer and healthier lives," said Partnership Interim President Corinne G. Husten, MD, MPH. "We need to make sure that the health reform debate now gathering momentum in Congress gives top priority to increasing the delivery of clinically effective and highly cost-effective preventive services such as regular aspirin use."

The new recommendation underscores the importance of healthcare providers discussing aspirin use with patients. A 2007 study sponsored by the American College of Preventive Medicine found that the factor most strongly associated with appropriate aspirin use is a conversation about aspirin between a patient and healthcare provider. The recommendation will help clinicians assess individuals' risk for heart disease and stroke, and it gives clinicians guidance about age- and gender-specific benefits and harms of aspirin use.

A separate study by Partnership for Prevention found that if 90 percent of people who should be taking aspirin were taking aspirin, an additional 45,000 lives would be saved each year. Currently, less than half of people who should be taking aspirin regularly are actually taking it.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance, which measures the quality of care provided by health plans, recently recognized that aspirin use is effective in reducing cardiovascular events. To encourage appropriate aspirin use, NCQA has proposed that health plans measure their members' use of aspirin as well as the extent to which clinicians discuss aspirin use with patients.

Partnership for Prevention has established a Task Force on Appropriate Aspirin Use to encourage appropriate use of aspirin to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Dr. Michael Pignone, who is a member of Partnership's Task Force and chief of general internal medicine at the University of North Carolina, commented that, "The updated USPSTF recommendation emphasizes the importance of considering the potential benefits and downsides of using aspirin for cardiovascular prevention. It's clear that discussing aspirin use with patients in the targeted age groups should become standard practice for clinicians."

More information about Partnership for Prevention's initiative can be found at www.prevent.org/content/view/227/205. The page includes a podcast with Dr. Nieca Goldberg discussing the new aspirin recommendation. Dr. Goldberg is a member of Partnership's Task Force on Appropriate Aspirin Use and directs the Women's Heart Program at New York University. The recommendation from the USPSTF can be viewed at http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstf/uspsasmi.htm.

Partnership for Prevention is a non-partisan, non-profit organization of business, healthcare, and government leaders who are working to make disease prevention and health promotion a higher priority in the nation's health policies and programs. More information is available at www.prevent.org.

Comments

  1. Rob Moosecamp Rob Moosecamp Indonesia says:

    I'm an american living in Indonesia, had a heart attack 26 years ago, been taking an asprin a day ever since. I'm 78 and feeling great! ! !

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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