It’s long been conventional wisdom that taking a daily aspirin can help ward off heart attacks.
But a new study from researchers at the University of Florida found that piece of advice might not work for everyone.
Researchers examined the health histories of 33,000 people over the age of 45 with narrowed and hardened arteries, also known as atherosclerosis.
It’s one of the largest studies on the topic to date, according to WNDU16.
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That makes its findings even more interesting — according to researchers, those with atherosclerosis but no past history of heart attacks or strokes received no health benefit from taking a daily aspirin.
And for those with narrowed, hardened arteries who have experienced a heart attack or stroke in the past, aspirin was just “marginally beneficial.”
That flies in the face of what nearly every doctor tells their patients, said researcher and cardiologist Anthony Bavry.
“Aspirin therapy is widely used and embraced by cardiologists and general practitioners around the world,” Bavry said. “This takes a bit of the luster off the use of aspirin.”
But don’t just toss out that aspirin bottle because of the study’s findings, Bavry said, as the painkiller still proves helpful if a person is currently suffering a stroke or heart attack.
And even if you still want to stop taking aspirin, Bavry urges you to consult a doctor to make sure it’s safe.
His concern is backed up by a new study published in the journal Circulation, which found that people who stopped taking a daily low-dose aspirin were 37 percent more likely to experience heart problems than those who kept taking the pill.
That’s because some people do benefit from a daily aspirin, Bavry said, including those who’ve had a coronary bypass, a surgery that restores bloodflow to the heart, but haven’t suffered a heart attack or stroke.
Bavry said more research needs to be done on the subject — but that it’s important to limit the use of aspirin to just those who actually need it.
“The cardiology community needs to appreciate that aspirin deserves ongoing study,” he said. “There are many individuals who may not be deriving a benefit from aspirin. If we can identify those patients and spare them from aspirin, we’re doing a good thing.”