The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now telling people to stop taking aspirin as a way to prevent a first heart attack. The FDA says that while taking aspirin might help prevent a second heart attack, it’s not advisable for people who have yet to encounter such a health problem.
The FDA is making the announcement because a recent evaluation of the literature suggests that, for people who have not yet suffered a heart attack, the drawbacks of regularly taking aspirin outweigh the benefits.
The side effects associated with taking aspirin regularly over a long period of time are significant and include internal bleeding. Doctors have suggested it could also lead to brain problems.
Robert Temple, the FDA’s deputy director for clinical science, says that for years physicians have been recommending people who have suffered a heart attack regularly take aspirin.
“Since the 1990s, clinical data have shown that in people who have experienced a heart attack, stroke or who have a disease of the blood vessels in the heart, a daily low dose of aspirin can help prevent a re-occurrence,” Temple said.
The problem is that, for people who have not yet suffered a heart attack, there’s no evidence to suggest that regularly taking aspirin will result in more good than harm. That’s why the FDA has released a report which says that “after carefully examining scientific data from major studies, FDA has concluded that the data do not support the use of aspirin as a preventive medication by people who have not had a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular problems, a use that is called ‘primary prevention.’”
It’s expected the announcement will prevent pharmaceutical company Bayer from changing its labels. Bayer had hoped to create new labels which indicated that regularly taking aspirin could be beneficial for people without a history of heart disease.