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U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Narrows Aspirin Recommendation

Aspirin most beneficial for people ages 50 to 59

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has posted a draft recommendation statement and draft evidence summaries on the use of aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer.

According to the draft recommendation, daily use of low-dose aspirin has the most overall benefit for people 50 to 59 years of age who have an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. The USPSTF recommends aspirin use in this age group. This is a B recommendation.

People 60 to 69 years of age with increased risk can also benefit from taking aspirin. However, the overall benefit for this group is smaller, so the decision to take aspirin should be an individual one based on patients’ risk for cardiovascular disease and bleeding, their overall health, and their personal values and preferences. This is a C recommendation.

The USPSTF also concluded that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of aspirin use in adults younger than 50 or 70 and older. It issued I grades (insufficient evidence) for these age groups.

Reuters notes that the proposal is narrower than the USPSTF’s previous recommendations, which separated guidelines by sex and also recommended aspirin for people outside of the 50-to-59 age group. The changes are based on the inclusion of colon cancer risk in the recommendation and the addition of four clinical trials on the use of aspirin since 2009.

The USPSTF approached this draft recommendation in a new way. “Each person has only one decision to make — whether or not to take aspirin for prevention,” says USPSTF member Douglas K. Owens, MD, MS. “To help individuals and their clinicians make this decision, the task force integrated the evidence about the use of aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer into one recommendation on the use of aspirin.”

Sources: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force; September 15, 2015; and Reuters; September 15, 2015.

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