Many people intake aspirin to guard against heart ailments, but a new study suggests that one may not need to take aspirin to prevent heart attacks or strokes.
The new research conducted by the American College of Cardiology reveals that nearly 1 in 10 people who take aspirin for this purpose may be exposing themselves to more harm rather than good.
Aspirin aka acetylsalicylic acid stops the occurrence of strokes and heart attacks by averting the formation of blood clots. These blood clots are made up of platelets, which are glued together thanks to the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme. Taking aspirin stops COX from sticking the platelets.
While this action is useful when warding off cardiovascular diseases, it may also be potentially dangerous. For instance if blood is unable to clot with ease, an individual could have excessive bleeding. This can lead to a hemorrhagic stroke in the brain or cause internal bleeding that may be life threatening.
Owing to this reason, experts recommend the intake of aspirin only for individuals who have a high clot-related risk. Basically, individuals who have already suffered from strokes or heart attacks.
The current study was conducted on 68,808 patients in the U.S, who were under treatment by cardiologists. The team of researchers from Baylor College of Medicine studied the medical records of patients who were being observed under the American College of Cardiology's PINNACLE registry.
They researchers focused their observations on patients who were on aspirin to avert the occurrence of a stroke or heart attack for the first time. Of the people observed, nearly 7,972 patients were taking aspirin even though the risk of them having a heart attack or stroke (in the next decade) was pretty low. The number of patients who took the drug "inappropriately" was 11.6 percent and they were 49.9 years old on an average.
The study also found that younger patients and women were more likely to use aspirin in an inappropriate manner, when compared to men and seniors
Whether the patients taking aspirin were doing so under their cardiologists' direction or on their own accord is not clear.
"More than 1 in 10 patients in this national registry were receiving inappropriate aspirin therapy for primary prevention, with significant practice-level variations. Our findings suggest that there are important opportunities to improve evidence-based aspirin use for the primary prevention of CVD," concluded the authors.
The study has been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.