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Taking Aspirin to Prevent Heart Attacks Could Be Dangerous

For years, you’ve probably heard that taking a daily aspirin can reduce your risk of heart attack and strokes. But now doctors say the side effects aren’t justified for people who aren’t already at risk of heart disease, according to new guidelines by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.

New materials advise patients against taking aspirin without first talking to a doctor because of internal bleeding risk. Guidelines warn doctors against prescribing aspirin therapy only in high-risk patients who have difficulty managing blood sugar or lowering cholesterol, CNN reported.

The reason is because aspirin therapy is now outdated since doctors can better treat conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure, that increase cardiovascular disease risk.

“For the most part, we are now much better at treating risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes and especially high cholesterol,” North Carolina cardiologist Dr. Kevin Campbell, who wasn’t involved in the new guidelines, told CNN. “This makes the biggest difference, probably negating any previously perceived aspirin benefit in primary prevention.”

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According to the outlet, new research has found that aspirin is a waste of money for healthy older adults, and can even be dangerous. Taking aspirin can can make it difficult to form blood clots and even cause bleeding stomach ulcers, according to the Mayo Clinic. Plus, conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, along with certain medications, like steroids or blood thinners, increase the risk of these side effects.

Instead, the guidelines emphasize incorporating better habits, like avoiding fast food and smoking, over taking medications, explained Donna Arnett, PhD, who helped write the guidelines.

“Healthy living, with diet and exercise,” she said, “is the primary line of defense in preventing heart disease,” she said in a statement.

Need help getting started? Check out our list of heart-healthy foods and recommendations to easily lower blood pressure.

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