For some time, we’ve been told that an aspirin a day could help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke while also increasing your chances of surviving them. Some are wary of taking aspirin every day, however, as it was linked to an increase risk of stomach bleeding. This left many wondering whether a daily aspirin was worth the risk.
Well, a recent study from Cardiff University has helped provide a solution to the dilemma. According to research, the benefits of daily aspirin outweigh the risks to the stomach, as stomach bleeding is much less serious than some of the other conditions that aspirin helps to protect against. Regular use of the drug does increase the risk of stomach bleeds by about a half, but there wasn’t supporting evidence to indicated that aspirin increases the frequency of fatal stomach bleeding. In other words, while you’re twice as likely to have a stomach bleed while taking a daily aspirin, it’ll likely be bleed that is non-fatal and “usually followed by complete recovery,” according to the study.
On the flip side, heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death across the world, and research has shown that a small daily dose of aspirin can reduce the occurrence of both diseases by around 20-30 percent. In addition to protecting against heart disease, stroke, and cancer, there is growing research that aspirin can also help protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
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It’s best to speak with your doctor before starting a daily regimen, but if you have a documented personal or family history of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you can likely benefit from a daily aspirin. Taking low-dose aspirin is a good way to maximize the drug’s benefits while minimizing its dangers, especially for someone at risk.
“With our study showing that there is no increased risk of death from stomach bleeding in people who take regular aspirin, we hope there will be better confidence in the drug and wider use of it by older people, leading to important reductions in deaths and disablement from heart disease and cancer across the community,” says study lead Professor Peter Elwood from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine.
Talk to your doctor if you’re considering taking an aspirin a day to see if it works for you—and at least now you can feel better informed about the risks.