For and against: Aspirin for everyone over 50? BMJ Volume 330, pp 1440-3
Experts go head to head in this weeks BMJ over whether everyone over 50 should take a daily aspirin to reduce their risk of heart attacks and strokes. Peter Elwood and colleagues at Cardiff University believe that the evidence now supports more widespread use of aspirin, and there needs to be a strategy to inform the public and enable older people to make their own decision.
As a general rule, daily aspirin is given only to people whose five year risk of a vascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, is 3% or more. The authors show that, by age 50, 80% of men and 50% of women reach this level of risk and they suggest that 90-95% of the population could take low dose aspirin without problems. Evidence is also growing that regular aspirin may reduce cancer and dementia.
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