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Too Few Take Aspirin for Heart Health

Low-Dose Aspirin Cuts High Heart-Disease Risk -- but Only 41% Over 40 Regularly Take It
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 10, 2007 -- Low-dose aspirin helps prevent heart attack and stroke -- but only 41% of Americans over 40 regularly take aspirin, a Harris survey finds.

"We expected to see greater than 70% utilization rates," said Steven Weisman, PhD, of Innovative Science Solutions, Morristown, N.J., in a news release.

The Internet-based survey included a nationally representative sample of 1,299 U.S. residents aged 40 and older. Weisman and colleagues report the survey results in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Not everyone over 40 should take aspirin. It can have serious side effects, such as gastrointestinal bleeding, heartburn, and stomach upset. But everyone at increased risk of heart disease should discuss aspirin use with a doctor.

Yet only a third of over-40 Americans have had such discussions, the survey shows. Those discussions are vital: The survey shows that 88% of Americans who take aspirin did so after discussing it with their doctors.

"We have had extensive discussions with doctors related to this issue and found that many find the limited time available during an office visit a barrier to discussing preventative matters," Weisman said.

Except for people allergic to aspirin and those at high risk of serious bleeding, everyone who has had heart disease or a stroke should consider regular aspirin. The survey found that only 69% of people with heart disease actually took aspirin.

Based on survey responses, Weisman and colleagues determined that 42% of survey respondents were at increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Yet only 57% of these individuals regularly take aspirin.

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