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Over Half of Middle-Age Older Americans Take Daily Aspirin

Having discussed aspirin with provider is the strongest predictor of regular use

MONDAY, April 27, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Slightly more than half of middle-aged adults and seniors in the United States take aspirin daily, with most taking it for primary prevention, according to survey findings published in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

In the survey, researchers questioned 2,509 people between 45 and 75 years old about their aspirin use and their health history. Fifty-two percent reported current aspirin use, and another 21 percent had used it at some point in the past. Four out of five aspirin users were doing so to prevent a first heart attack or stroke, the researchers found. Forty-seven percent of those without a history of cardiovascular disease said they were taking aspirin. About 84 percent of aspirin users said they take the drug for heart attack prevention, and 66 percent for stroke prevention, the report indicated. Another 18 percent take aspirin for cancer prevention, and 11 percent for prevention of Alzheimer's disease.

The survey results revealed that a talk with their doctor was the strongest factor that determined whether a person started taking aspirin. "If you'd had a discussion with a health care provider about aspirin, you were four times more likely to be on aspirin," study author Craig Williams, Pharm.D., of the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University in Portland, told HealthDay. Such a talk was the strongest predictor of regular aspirin use among people who had never suffered a heart attack or stroke, he added. Only one-quarter of people who hadn't discussed aspirin with a health care provider decided to go ahead and take it on their own initiative. However, about one-third of aspirin users overall were taking a dosage stronger than baby aspirin, the survey revealed.

"The use of aspirin in patients without cardiovascular disease remains controversial," the authors write. "Patients' understanding of the risks and benefits of aspirin likely contribute to the decision of whether or not to use aspirin regularly."

The study was partly funded by aspirin maker Bayer.

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