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Aspirin Overused in Patients at Low Risk for Heart Disease

CardioSmart News

Due to risks associated with aspirin use, one in 10 patients is inappropriately prescribed daily aspirin to prevent heart disease, based on the review of a large U.S. health registry.

Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, this study investigated national use of low-dose, daily aspirin—a therapy which according to national guidelines is only appropriate in patients at increased risk for heart disease. Although daily low-dose aspirin has been shown to help prevent heart attack or stroke, it also carries increased risk of internal bleeding. And according to national guidelines, the risks associated with aspirin use outweigh the benefits in healthy individuals with little risk for heart disease.

Using data from the PINNACLE (Practice Innovation and Clinical Excellence) Registry, which collects useful information to improve health care quality, researchers identified patients with cardiovascular risk taking aspirin to help prevent heart disease. Between 2008 and 2013, almost 69,000 patients were prescribed such therapy and 11.6% of such prescriptions were considered inappropriate based on current guidelines. Not surprisingly, researchers also found that among the 119 medical centers included in the study, overuse of aspirin was more common at some providers than others.

Based on findings, authors highlight the importance of education regarding current guidelines related to aspirin use. Although aspirin can be extremely effective in reducing cardiovascular risk in certain patients, research shows that bleeding risk associated with aspirin outweighs the benefits in patients with very low risk for heart disease. Authors hope to identify opportunities to improve adherence to aspirin-related guidelines to prevent unnecessary complications and treat patients more effectively.
Read the full study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology Learn about CardioSmart's editorial process. Information provided for educational purposes only. Please talk to your health care professional about your specific needs.