Aspirin has been shown to reduce the risk of certain medical conditions including cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, and pregnancy complications. The decision to start or continue taking aspirin is complex, with many important factors for you and your doctor to discuss. The four main factors are:
- Risk for bleeding
- Commitment to follow prescribing orders
- Disease risk
Who is at risk
The primary risk factors for cardiovascular disease include older age, male sex, race/ethnicity, abnormal lipid levels, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking.
The strongest links seem to be obesity, age, family history, and having other colon conditions (such as Crohn’s Disease).
Important risk factors for preeclampsia include history of preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, or preterm birth; placental abruption or miscarriage; maternal conditions (including type 1 or 2 pre-gestational diabetes, chronic hypertension, renal disease, and autoimmune diseases); and pregnancy with multiple babies.
Preventive service at no cost
Adults aged 50 to 59 years with a ≥10% 10-year CVD risk
The USPSTF recommends initiating low-dose aspirin use for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and colorectal cancer (CRC) in adults aged 50 to 59 years who have a 10% or greater 10-year CVD risk, are not at increased risk for bleeding, have a life expectancy of at least 10 years, and are willing to take low-dose aspirin daily for at least 10 years.
Pregnant Women Who Are At High Risk for Preeclampsia
The USPSTF recommends the use of low-dose aspirin (81 mg/d) as preventive medication after 12 weeks of gestation in women who are at high risk for preeclampsia.
Why taking aspirin is important
Aspirin use has been shown to reduce risk for cardiovascular events (nonfatal heart attack and stroke) in adults aged 50 to 69 years who are at increased risk.
Colorectal cancer symptoms may be minor or non-existent during the early stages of the disease when it is the most treatable. Aspirin may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in adults after 5 to 10 years of use.
Preeclampsia is one of the most serious health problems affecting pregnant women. Preeclampsia is classified as hypertension with any of the following: thrombocytopenia, impaired liver function, renal insufficiency, pulmonary edema, or cerebral or visual disturbances. Preeclampsia also accounts for many preterm births.
What the dosage is
Most doctors prescribe 81 mg per day to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or colorectal cancer. He or she will assess bleeding risk factors periodically and may adjust the dosage.
Low-dose aspirin, 60 to 150 mg/day, may reduce the risk for preeclampsia and reduce the risk for preterm birth. Use of low-dose aspirin may begin between 12 and 28 weeks of gestation. Your doctor will tell you what is right for you.