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Over 10 Percent of Patients Taking Aspirin Inappropriately

For many users, odds of heart attack, stroke are lower than risk of serious bleeding

TUESDAY, Jan. 13, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Researchers found that of 68,808 U.S. adults prescribed aspirin long-term, 11.6 percent probably should not have been because their odds of suffering a heart attack or stroke were not high enough to outweigh the risks of daily aspirin use. The findings were published in the Jan. 20 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Ravi Hira, M.D., the lead researcher on the study and a cardiologist at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues analyzed medical records of 68,808 patients at 119 cardiology practices across the United States. The group included people with hypertension who had not yet developed cardiovascular disease.

Overall, Hira’s team found, 11.6 percent of patients seemed to be prescribed aspirin unnecessarily — their risks were not high enough (defined as at least a 6 percent chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke over the next decade) to justify the risks of long-term aspirin use. Women and younger patients were more likely than men and seniors to be using aspirin inappropriately. Also, the overall rate of misuse may be even higher than noted since many people may take daily aspirin without a doctor’s recommendation, the researchers said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently weighed in on the issue, advising people against taking aspirin to prevent a first-time heart attack or stroke. But the agency also said it cannot make blanket recommendations that apply to everyone.

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