More people use aspirin than any other medicine. It relieves fever, pain, swelling, and keeps blood clots from forming in your arteries. It can also help prevent cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer, lower your risk of stroke or heart attack; and, it costs about a penny a day. In April, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended daily use of aspirin to help prevent heart attacks and stroke in 50-59 year olds at high risk of cardiovascular disease and at low risk of bleeding complications.
In short the USPSTF found moderate evidence that starting daily use of low-dose aspirin (81mg) for this population of 50-59 year olds lowers their risk of colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease. It found less evidence of 60-69 year olds at high risk of heart disease benefiting from beginning the use of aspirin.The USPSTF did not recommend beginning use of aspirin in people under 50 or over 59 because of lack of evidence.
The benefits for initiating aspirin use for 50-59 year olds at high risk of cardiovascular disease and at low risk of bleeding complications outweigh the harms. But, for some people, aspirin can cause severe harm, including gastrointestinal ulcers and hemorrhagic stroke. Other side effects include stomach pain, skin rash, nausea, diarrhea and itching.
Talk to your doctor about whether you should be taking aspirin daily. Note that the USPSTF recommendation applies to the age range for which there may be benefits in initiating aspirin use. If you are taking aspirin, you should talk to your doctor about whether to continue or stop taking it as you age. There may be benefits to continuing aspirin use into your later years. Also, keep in mind that if you are taking aspirin you should talk to your doctor before taking ibuprofen, Advil or Motrin, to treat pain or fever.
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