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Study: Too Few Take Aspirin For Heart

Low-dose aspirin helps prevent heart attack and stroke — but only 41 percent of Americans over 40 regularly take aspirin, a Harris survey finds.

"We expected to see greater than 70 percent utilization rates," said Steven Weisman, Ph.D., of Innovative Science Solutions, Morristown, N.J., in a news release.

The Internet-based survey included a nationally representative sample of 1,299 U.S. residents aged 40 and older. Weisman and colleagues report the survey results in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Not everyone over 40 should take aspirin. It can have serious side effects, such as gastrointestinal bleeding, heartburn, and stomach upset. But everyone at increased risk of heart disease should discuss aspirin use with a doctor.

Yet only a third of over-40 Americans have had such discussions, the survey shows. Those discussions are vital: The survey shows that 88 percent of Americans who take aspirin did so after discussing it with their doctors.

"We have had extensive discussions with doctors related to this issue and found that many find the limited time available during an office visit a barrier to discussing preventative matters," Weisman said.'

Except for people allergic to aspirin and those at high risk of serious bleeding, everyone who has had heart disease or a stroke should consider regular aspirin. The survey found that only 69 percent of people with heart disease actually took aspirin.

Based on survey responses, Weisman and colleagues determined that 42 percent of survey respondents were at increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Yet only 57 percent of these individuals regularly take aspirin.
By Daniel DeNoon
Reviewed by Louise Chang
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