Knoxville physicians explain new aspirin guidelines for older adults

Local News

If aspirin is in your medicine cabinet, there’s new advice out regarding whether to take it or not as a preventative measure to fend off a heart attack or stroke.

The change came from a recent study released by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.

Researchers say the benefits of aspirin may not outweigh the risks for older adults without a history of heart disease.

More: Aspirin: The controversy and new guidelines

At 78 John Klimek is happy, healthy and working every day at the O’Connor Senior Center. About 20years ago, Klimek started taking aspirin every day for his heart after triple bypass surgery.

“I took it for 19 years,” he said.

Klimek says he read research about the new guidelines and has concerns. 

“I take that aspirin every evening and I wonder if I should be taking it. I’m reading as much as I can online and when I see my cardiologist, that’s one of the questions I’ll be asking him,” Klimek said.

Hope Sellars, a nurse practitioner focusing on cardiology at UT Medical Center, explained what aspirin does.

“Aspirin is an anti-platelet medicine, so it inhibits the ability of the platelets to aggregate and stick together. In that sense it makes the blood a little more slick as it flows through the vessels.”

The new study says a daily low-dose aspirin can increase the risk of internal bleeding and early death.

“Aspirin isn’t for everyone, especially those above the age of 70 or below the age of 50 who do not have vascular or coronary disease,” said Sellars.

However, researchers say daily aspirin regimens can benefit older adults with a history of heart disease.

“Your physician is going to know your history. They’re going to know your bleeding risk. They’re going to weigh the pros and cons in each individual situation and make a recommendation based on that,” added Sellars.

The study notes a healthy lifestyle, as well as getting your blood pressure and cholesterol under control are the best precautions, which Klimek does to keep his heart healthy.”

I’m cautious about jumping on the bandwagon and doing what I’m told to do until I have more information,” he said.

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