The survey suggests that more than half of the older adults in the US are now taking a daily dose of aspirin, even though its use is not recommended by the Food and Drug Administration for most people who have not yet had a heart attack or stroke.
It observed that aspirin use is continuing to surge, especially among adults who are using it for "primary prevention", meaning in order to prevent an initial cardiovascular event, and in some cases to prevent cancer.
"The use of aspirin is still a very contentious issue among medical experts. The support of its use in primary prevention is more of a mixed bag," said Dr. Craig Williams, lead author from the Oregon State University. Aside from cardiovascular events, some studies have suggested a role for aspirin in preventing cancer, especially colon cancer, Williams said. "That has further increased interest in its use," he said.
The FDA has determined that in primary use to prevent a first heart attack or stroke, for every such event that's prevented, there's approximately one major bleeding event that's caused, such as gastrointestinal bleeding.
"But this survey clearly shows that more and more people who have not experienced those events and are not technically considered at high risk by the FDA are also deciding to use aspirin, usually in consultation with their doctors," Williams added.
The results were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
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