Taking an aspirin a day may help prevent stroke and heart attack in some people, but it’s not appropriate for everyone, and can have serious side effects that could offset the benefits.

This past Monday the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reminded the public of that fact. They have told drugmaker Bayer Corporation not to expect the agency to allow labels listing aspirin as a drug for primary prevention of heart attacks and other problems.

Instead, the recommendation for daily doses of therapeutic aspirin will stay the same – it should be used only in people at high risk for heart attack and stroke, and then only under a doctor’s care.

“You should use daily aspirin therapy only after first talking to your health care professional, who can weigh the risks and benefits,” said Dr. Robert Temple, the FDA’s deputy director for clinical science.

Dr. Richard Chazal, vice president of the American College of Cardiology said people should not be taking daily aspirin just because they think it’s a good idea. “There’s been sort of a concept that since aspirin is so good that maybe it would be a good idea if everyone took it. But the data doesn’t really support that,” he said.

Aspirin is a blood thinner, which can help with heart attack and stroke, but it also carries the risk of dangerous bleeding in the stomach or brain. People need a personal assessment to determine whether aspirin is right for them.

Both the FDA and Bayer officials have acknowledged there are several large scale studies under way to test the use of aspirin for primary prevention of heart attack and stroke. Bayer officials said the results of aspirin use in more than 50,000 patients are expected in the next few years.

Dr. Steven M. Goldberg, a cardiologist at North Shore Cardiology and Internal Medicine in Great Neck, New York added one important point – If you’re already taking aspirin under a doctor’s orders, don’t stop without checking. It can be life-threatening to suddenly stop your dose.     nbchealthnews.com     5/5/14

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