Many Americans Are Misusing Aspirin

January 25, 2015

Not every patient requires an aspirin a day.

Although it was initially manufactured for pain relief and fever reduction, aspirin has been shown to have antiplatelet properties and is more often used for maintaining heart health in patients at high risk for cardiovascular events, such as those with diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

However, it seems that other patients want to jump on the bandwagon, even if they are at low risk for heart attack or stroke.

A recent study conducted by researchers affiliated with the American College of Cardiology found that more than 1 in 10 Americans without diabetes are misusing aspirin. Aspirin is being taken without the advice of a physician among these patients, simply because they know of others who are taking the drug. Instead of providing a benefit, aspirin use in these patients can actually pose a risk of adverse side effects that may include bleeding, ulcers, and hepatotoxicity.

Researchers studied 68,808 subjects who were taking aspirin between 2008 and 2011, and they found that 7972 (11.6%) had a cardiovascular disease risk of 6% or less. Additionally, aspirin misuse was more common among female subjects.

Head researcher Dr. Ravi Hira, a cardiologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, stated that, “We need a discussion between the patient and the clinician to see that we’re not causing more harm than good.”