Last reviewed by Drug Expert on May 14th, 2019.
Are you one of the millions of Americans who takes daily low-dose aspirin? In most cases, daily aspirin use is intended to reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack in individuals with a history of cardiovascular disease. This is because the over-the-counter pain reliever can prevent blood clots from forming, decreasing the likelihood of stroke or heart attack in these patients.
With that said, a recent JAMA study showed that daily aspirin use may increase the risk of intracranial hemorrhage or bleeding in the skull. Since aspirin reduces the likelihood of blood clots, it simultaneously increases the likelihood of major bleeding events, such as intracranial hemorrhage or bleeding in the skull. In a 5-year study, research found that participants with no previous history of cardiovascular disease who took low-dose aspirin on a regular basis increased their likelihood of a major bleeding event by at least 43 percent. On the other hand, daily low-dose aspirin decreased their chances of having a serious cardiovascular event by about 11 percent.
These results show that daily low-dose aspirin may still be a reasonable preventative of stroke or heart attack in patients with a history of cardiovascular disease, but not practical for patients who have no such history. Individuals with no prior incidence of cardiovascular disease who begin taking aspirin as a preventative to possible stroke or heart attack may be needlessly increasing their risk of bleeding in the skull.
Older individuals, overweight patients, or patients with diabetes have been shown to benefit from taking low-dose aspirin on a regular basis, as they are already at an increased risk for stroke or heart attack. However, they must be closely monitored and be fully aware that any consistent aspirin regimen has now been shown to increase their chances of a major bleeding event. Patients with any of these risk factors that have already been diagnosed with bleeding disorders are not recommended to take aspirin regularly.
Before beginning a daily aspirin use regimen, patients with or without a history of cardiovascular disease should consult thoroughly with their physicians. The risk of a major bleeding event may outweigh the preventative benefits of daily aspirin use when it comes to stroke or heart attack. Moving forward with a low-dose aspirin routine depends strictly on each patient’s unique medical circumstances, including their pre-existing risk factors for stroke or heart attack and on the contrary, intracranial hemorrhage. A thorough assessment of the patient’s medical history will determine whether or not the benefits of daily aspirin use outweigh the risks.