Aches and pains are often alleviated by well-known over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin, but whether or not those tiny pills could have big impacts on one’s overall health continues to be questioned.
Aspirin is a pain reliever that can help ease discomfort and reduce fever and inflammation, but it’s also known to help prevent blood clots from forming. Thus, aspirin has long been recommended for those who have had or are at-risk of having a heart attack or stroke, specifically among men older than 50 and women older than 60.
While taking an aspirin or two occasionally is completely acceptable by medical standards, the recommendations for older adults to take aspirin on a daily basis have been revised.
According to the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, making healthy lifestyle changes and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol are better preventive measures for cardiovascular disease than taking aspirin every day.
Some of these lifestyle changes include:
- Participating in regular exercise of at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense activity each week
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoiding tobacco which includes use of e-cigarettes and second-hand smoke
- Adopting a healthier diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains and fish
- Limiting foods with added sugars or trans fats, such as red meats, sodium and saturated fats
A study published in the journal JAMA Neurology discovered that daily use of aspirin may actually lead to internal bleeding – even severe or deadly amounts in a few cases. People of Asian descent and those with a body mass index (BMI) below 25 were found to have the highest risks.
Even though these guidelines refute previous recommendations, that doesn’t mean taking an aspirin a day isn’t the right plan of action for you. In fact, these new guidelines specify that aspirin can be beneficial for some people who have very high risks of cardiovascular disease and low risks of bleeding.
“The medical literature for aspirin use continues to evolve and clarify details,” said Dr. Robert Kantor, market chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare of Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota.
Therefore, patients should work closely with their doctor to discuss a personalized care plan.