If you were thinking of popping a few aspirin today in hopes that it might prevent a future heart attack, you might want to reconsider that plan. Consumers without a history of heart attacks or strokes could be putting themselves in greater danger by swallowing the pill the Food and Drug Administration says.
After reviewing a number of studies the FDA has determined there is no evidence to support the general use of aspirin for primary prevention of a heart attack or stroke in consumers without a history of cardiovascular disease.
In fact, the FDA says in a statement released Tuesday that serious health risks, such as bleeding in the brain or stomach, could result from the use of aspirin in such situations.
However, the FDA says data continues to support the use of aspirin for preventing another heart attack or stroke in consumers who have cardiovascular disease. Measures used to prevent further cardiovascular events in patients who have previously experienced a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event is defined as secondary prevention by the FDA.
The FDA’s statement comes after the agency denied a 2003 request [PDF] by Bayer HealthCare, LLC, to change its aspirin labeling so the product could be marketed for prevention of heart attacks in patients with no prior history of cardiovascular disease.
At the time of the request the FDA opted to wait for the outcome of studies involving primary prevention in patients with diabetes and diseases of the arteries and veins located outside the brain and heart. The results of those studies were published over the past several years and did not demonstrate a significant benefit for primary prevention.
Officials with the agency say they are waiting for results of additional trials that may provide new evidence that could be the basis for changing the current uses of aspirin.
Consumers who currently take aspirin to prevent a first heart attack or stroke should talk with their healthcare provider about the best treatment for their situation.
Use of Aspirin for Primary Prevention of Heart Attack and Stroke [Food and Drug Administration]