Report backs daily aspirin for heart

March 16, 2009 3:17:14 PM PDT
Aspirin therapy is getting an even stronger backing as a preventive treatment for heart disease and strokes. VIDEO: Rush University Medical Center's Dr. Gary L. Schaer, an interventional cardiologist, talks about this new report.

If your doctor has you taking an aspirin a day, you might feel even more comfortable knowing a US government group backs the treatment.

The United States Preventative Services Task Force is strengthening its advice on an aspirin a day for men and women. It now finds compelling evidence that taking a daily aspirin is a good idea for middle-aged men and women at risk for cardiovascular disease.

It is not recommended for those at increased risk for internal bleeding, a rare but serious complication. But with all the studies backing the use of aspirin, government data shows only 16 percent of adults with risk factors are taking it.

Gary Schaer at Rush University Medical Center says this will help remind doctors to consider this common medication.

"I think we've known this for a long time that aspirin is effective in reducing heart attacks and strokes in select patients," said Schaer, "but we have always been concerned about the fact that some patients are at high risk for bleeding, so we are always weighing that risk and benefit. These guidelines and these recommendations strengthen our resolve to be aggressive with the aspirin therapy."

The report in the Annals of Internal Medicine did not address one big remaining question about the best dose to prevent heart attacks or strokes.