Millions of people are taking daily doses of Aspirin to try to reduce the risk of heart attacks and (maybe) strokes and (maybe even) some types of cancer.
So do the known benefits of regular Aspirin use significantly out-weigh the risks?
As always, the answer is “It depends”.
The cardiovascular benefits of using Aspirin are most clear for people who’ve already had a heart attack, for what is called “secondary prevention”.
In such people, regular use of Aspirin clearly reduces the risk of another heart attack, and that benefit very likely out-weighs any potential Aspirin-associated harm.
For the millions of users, however, who have happily not yer suffered a heart attack, who are using Aspirin for what’s called “primary prevention”, the data are much less clear that Aspirin significantly reduces the risk of a first heart attack (or death from cardiovascular disease).
And that has to be added to the considerable problem of bleeding from the regular use of Aspirin (especially potential hemorrhages in the GI tract and the brain) , something that gets worse with age, and which, according to a recent study published in the Lancet, has been significantly under-estimated in people over the age of 75.
Important to remember, then, especially if you’re one of the many elderly who decided to start taking Aspirin just because you saw a TV about its use: There is no formulaic one-size-fits-all answer to the question as to whether or not you should or shouldn’t be taking Aspirin (or, for that matter, what else you should be taking to try to prevent the bleeding risk from Aspirin).
Best to discuss this potentially problematic intervention with your doctor: It might just save your life.