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According to its website, ” the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine (that makes) evidence-based recommendations about preventive services such as screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications.”

So presumably, this is where a person who would like to get educated about prevention should go to seek the most useful objective health information.

For example, if you want to know if you should be taking aspirin to prevent a first heart attack (as millions and millions of people are now doing based on hyped media reports, ads, and enthusiastic urging from many doctors not to mention TV-watching neighbours), you would go to this site to look at the last aspirin update from the USPSTF.

So if you do that, here’s what you will find: “The USPSTF recommends initiating low-dose aspirin use for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and colorectal cancer (CRC) in adults aged 50 to 59 years who have a 10% or greater 10-year CVD risk, are not at increased risk for bleeding, have a life expectancy of at least 10 years, and are willing to take low-dose aspirin daily for at least 10 years.”

And then I’m willing to bet, nearly all of you will say, “Huh?” (or something much less polite), shake your heads, and just go back to doing exactly what you were doing before.

So should you be taking aspirin to prevent a first heart attack?

There is no formulaic answer (despite what you may have gleaned from that USPSTF update) but unless you have a high risk of heart attack over the next few years, the answer for most of you is “probably not” and for the elderly, “nearly totally not” because the risks (bleeding) pretty much balance out the benefits (fere heart attacks).

But the real bottom line, as nearly always, is that your best tack for this complex issue is to go to your presumably more sensibly-talking family doc to discuss what your options are.

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