Experts are now recommending that low-dose aspirin therapy to prevent heart attacks should be avoided, especially for young diabetic patients.
The recommendation says that men younger than 50 and women younger than 60 should not use aspirin. Experts said that the risks of some side effects such as stomach bleeding, and to a much less extent bleeding strokes, have to be better balanced against the potential benefits of using aspirin.
"The larger theme here is that use of low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks in people who have not already experienced one is probably not as efficacious as we used to believe it was," said Craig Williams, an associate professor in the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University, and one of the experts on the recent review panel.
"With any medication, you have to balance the benefits against possible side effects or risks," Williams said. "But even a baby aspirin has some degree of risk, even though it's very low, so we have to be able to show clear benefits that outweigh that risk. In the case of young adults with diabetes but no other significant risk factors, it's not clear that the benefits are adequate to merit use of aspirin."
Aspirin was believed to be of value for those who have risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, smoking, a family history of cardiovascular disease, or other relevant health issues.
It was also recommended for diabetics in lower dosages. The newest recommendations suggest that aspirin be used only by diabetics who have other risk factors and are older - men older than 50 and women older than 60.
Williams said there is no evidence that higher doses of aspirin beyond the range of 75-162 milligrams per day have any added value in preventing heart attacks. He also added that additional studies in patients with diabetes are being conducted to further demonstrate exactly who would best benefit from aspirin therapy.
The finding was published online in the journal Diabetes Care.