Cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for more than 1 in 4 deaths annually in the United States. CVD can happen at any age; it is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Risk factors for CVD include older age, hypertension, unhealthy cholesterol levels, diabetes, and obesity. In recent years, the utilization of daily aspirin to prevent CVD and colorectal cancer was recommended by several organizations. Recent clinical trials are, however, changing this belief.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has now updated and changed its recommendations. They now recommend against initiating low-dose aspirin use for the primary prevention of CVD in adults 60 years or older. Based on a review of recent data, the USPSTF concluded with moderate certainty that initiating aspirin for the primary prevention of CVD events in adults 60 years or older has no net benefit.

The decision to initiate low-dose aspirin use for the primary prevention of CVD in adults ages 40 to 59 years who have a 10% or greater 10-year CVD risk should be done on an individual basis in consultation with a healthcare provider.  The USPSTF found that the evidence indicates that the net benefit of aspirin use in this group is small. Those who are not at increased risk for bleeding and are willing to take low-dose aspirin daily are more likely to benefit.

The USPSTF’s review of the data showed that the evidence is unclear whether aspirin use reduces the risk of colorectal cancer incidence or death.

The full USPSTF recommendations are available here.

Here are some additional resources: 

The Million Hearts initiative provides information on improving cardiovascular health and preventing heart attack and stroke.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have resources related to risk of heart disease and the prevention of heart disease for patients and health professionals.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has patient resources related to coronary heart disease.