For years, millions of adults followed recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to take baby aspirin daily to reduce their risk of heart disease. But the new guidelines, jointly from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, said that it was no longer necessary for adults with a low risk of heart disease, because people were more likely to develop gastrointestinal bleeding from the baby aspirin than receive any preventative benefits.
The new recommendations come six months after a study of over 19,000 U.S. adults ages 65 and up found that daily aspirin was unnecessary and potentially harmful.
"We found there was no discernible benefit of aspirin on prolonging independent, healthy life for the elderly," Anne Murray, a geriatrician and epidemiologist at Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis and a lead author of the study, told NPR in September.
Now, the new guidelines say that only those people who are at a serious risk of heart attack or stroke should take daily aspirin, as determined by their doctors.
"Clinicians should be very selective in prescribing aspirin for people without known cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Roger Blumenthal, co-chair of the 2019 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease, in a statement, according to NBC News. "Aspirin should be limited to people at the highest risk of cardiovascular disease and a very low risk of bleeding."
Rather than relying on medication, Blumenthal said that people should focus on living healthy lives to prevent heart disease.
"It's much more important to optimize lifestyle habits and control blood pressure and cholesterol as opposed to recommending aspirin," he said.