Is Daily Aspirin Unsafe?

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The benefits of daily aspirin might actually be outweighed by the risks of bleeding ulcers and kidney failure, and regular use of the drug might be recommended too broadly, health officials say.

And unless you’ve already had a heart attack or stroke, using aspirin to protect your heart could actually be a bad idea, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Baby aspirin, or one 81-milligram tablet of the drug, has been widely recommended by doctors to prevent heart disease and stroke, but after an extensive risk-benefit analysis, doctors are changing their view, saying that the blood-thinning pain killer could be particularly harmful to older people since the risk of internal bleeding increases with age, the Journal reports.

“The risk of gastrointestinal bleeding with and without aspirin use increases with age and is twice as high in men as in women,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

There may be a benefit to daily aspirin use if you have some kind of heart or blood vessel disease, or if you have evidence of poor blood flow to the brain,” according to the Food and Drug Administration. “But the same properties that make aspirin work in stopping blood from clotting may also cause unwanted side effects, such as stomach bleeding, bleeding in the brain, kidney failure, and other kinds of strokes,” the agency says.

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