Aspirin does not routinely help prevent heart attacks, according to new research that flies in the face of received wisdom.
The research at Dundee University, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), finds that people who show no symptoms of heart disease receive no benefit from the drug.
A report by professor Jill Belch, of the university’s Institute of Cardiovascular Research, says that aspirin is effective only if prescribed to people with more serious cardiovascular problems.
It says that it benefits people who have already suffered a heart attack or stroke, as it can reduce the risk of future related problems by a quarter.
But it adds: “Although aspirin is cheap and universally available, practitioners and authors of guidelines need to heed the evidence that aspirin should be prescribed only in patients with established symptomatic cardiovascular disease.”
Professor Belch told the Daily Mail: “If you’re taking aspirin for secondary prevention because you’ve had a heart attack, or stroke, or have a circulatory problem, then it works.
“But it doesn’t work if you have none of these problems and there is also no evidence for its use by healthy middle-aged people.”
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