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Aspirin May Not Help Prevent Primary Heart Disease

Study suggests those without cardiovascular disease symptoms do not benefit from daily dose

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- The potential benefits and harms of using aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease are too finely balanced for the drug to be recommended for routine use in at-risk patients with no history of cardiovascular disease, according to a study in the November issue of the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin.

The article spells out the current recommendations from multiple sources for routine aspirin use in some patients with risk factors for cardiovascular disease, notably those aged 50 years and over with type 2 diabetes. The paper also reviews the evidence on aspirin's efficacy in primary prevention.

Although aspirin has been well-established as a secondary prevention measure for cardiovascular disease, the current evidence does not support its use as a primary prevention method, and the balance between the cardiovascular benefits and gastrointestinal hemorrhage risks is finer than was previously believed, the paper concludes.

"Low-dose aspirin prophylaxis should not be routinely initiated for primary prevention," the authors write. "With respect to those people already taking low-dose aspirin for primary prevention, the decision about whether to continue with the treatment should be taken by both the patient and a health care professional in light of the available evidence. This also includes people who purchase aspirin over the counter for primary prevention."

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