The research shows that your coronary artery calcium (CAC) score, a measurement of plaque in the arteries that feed the heart, may help determine whether or not you are a good candidate for aspirin.
"Many heart attacks and strokes occur in individuals who do not appear to be at high risk," lead author, Michael D Miedema, MD, MPH said.
"Individuals with known CVD [cardiovascular disease] should take a daily aspirin, but the best approach for individuals without known CVD is unclear." If we only treat high-risk individuals with aspirin, we are going to miss a substantial portion of patients who eventually suffer heart attacks.
"However, liberally prescribing aspirin increases the bleeding risk for a significant number of people who were never going to have a heart attack in the first place. With this study, we wanted to see if there is potentially a better way to determine who to treat with aspirin beyond simply using traditional risk factors," he added.
Aspirin helps prevent heart attacks and strokes by preventing blood clots from forming in arteries lined with unhealthy plaque buildup.
However, this same benefit puts patients taking aspirin at risk for dangerous bleeding, when blood clots don't form where they should.
For that reason, the American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines currently recommend aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD) in people who have known CVD or who are considered to be at high risk for a CVD event. Aspirin is generally not recommended for people who are considered to be at low or intermediate risk.
The study is published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.