Taking a low-dose aspirin every day is known to benefit heart health for many people. But stopping aspirin therapy without medical advice can be downright dangerous for those who have cardiovascular disease.

Experts say stopping can increase the risk of a heart attack or even death from coronary heart disease. About half of all people who start a regimen of daily aspirin stop taking it for various reasons, including simply forgetting to take their daily dose, according to a recent study.

Researchers found that for every 1,000 individuals who discontinue aspirin therapy each year, four have a nonfatal heart attack regardless of the length of time they've been taking aspirin.

In May 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement cautioning that evidence does not support the general use of aspirin for the primary prevention of heart attack or stroke. That is, the serious risks associated with aspirin therapy (e.g., increased risk for bleeding in the GI tract or brain) outweigh the benefits in people who have not experienced heart attack or stroke. According to the FDA, the benefits of using aspirin as a secondary prevention measure—in people who have already had a heart attack or stroke—do outweigh the risks. Further research is being conducted.

Source: British Medical Journal, published online 7/19/11; Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50; Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 10 Jul 2013

Last Modified: 07 May 2014