SSM Health Medical Minute – Studies show aspirin does not prevent heart attacks

ST. LOUIS - Taking a low-dose aspirin every day has long been known to cut the chances of another heart attack, stroke or other heart problem in people who already have had one, but the risks don’t outweigh the benefits for most other folks. The latest studies are some of the largest and longest to test this blood thinner in people who don’t yet have heart disease or a blood vessel-related problem.

One study found that aspirin did not help prevent first strokes or heart attacks in people with a moderate risk for one because they already had several health threats such as smoking, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Another study tested aspirin in people with diabetes, who are more likely to develop or die from heart problems, and found that the modest benefit it gave was offset by a greater risk of serious bleeding.

"These patients who we previously thought to be moderate risk patients it turns out that aspirin therapy in these patients did not reduce their risk of having their first heart attack or their first stroke and in fact what it probably does do is increase their risk of bleeding," said Dr. Abhay Laddu, cardiologist with SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital Lake St. Louis.

Dr. Laddu said the studies did show if you have had a heart attack or stroke that daily aspirin therapy helps.

"The highest of high-risk patient benefits from being on aspirin but the lowest of low-risk patients do not benefit from being on aspirin as far as primary prevention," Laddu said.

To learn more about Heart and Vascular care, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Wednesday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.​