Many men consider taking a daily low-dose aspirin to reduce the chance of having a heart attack or stroke. You should do so only if the chance of being helped outweighs the chance of triggering unwanted bleeding, since aspirin interferes with normal clotting. But about one in 10 men who take protective aspirin may not really qualify, according to a national study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Experts recommend that aspirin might be considered in someone whose chance of experiencing a cardiovascular problem is at least 6% in the next 10 years. At that tipping point, the chance of being helped is great enough to justify the risk of unwanted bleeding.
Researchers examined the health records of nearly 70,000 adults who had no symptoms of heart disease but were taking protective aspirin. They calculated that as many as 12% of these people (roughly one in 10) did not meet the basic criterion for taking aspirin.
Taking protective aspirin is a serious decision, since you will need to take it for life to get the full benefit, and it triggers dangerous internal bleeding in a small number of people. It’s wise to discuss the risks and benefits fully with your doctor. Don’t prescribe it to yourself—or stop taking it without telling your doctor—based on what you hear in the press.