Aspirin has long been called a wonder drug due to its ability to help prevent heart attacks and strokes caused by clots because it interferes with the blood’s clotting ability. When we bleed, our blood platelets build up creating a plug that seals an opening in a blood vessel. These clots can also develop inside blood vessels, potentially preventing blood flow to the brain and resulting in a stroke. Aspirin works by reducing the clumping action of platelets to help prevent stroke.
Milwaukee home care professionals believe seniors and their family members need to be aware that research into the use of aspirin to prevent stroke has found that while many people can benefit from daily low-dose aspirin there are people for whom aspirin can do more harm than good.
Primary vs Secondary Stroke Prevention
Research conducted since the 1990s has found people who have had a stroke, heart attack, or blood vessel disease can benefit from daily aspirin to prevent a reoccurrence of stroke. This is called secondary prevention.
Seniors should be aware the FDA has found primary prevention–or daily low-dose aspirin to prevent stroke in people who have not had cardiovascular issues, heart attack, or stroke–may not be beneficial. This is because daily aspirin intake comes with potentially serious risks, such as bleeding into the stomach or brain. Because aspirin works by interfering with the blood’s ability to clot, it can be especially dangerous for seniors who are on blood thinners.
A large Japanese clinical trial, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found daily low-dose aspirin does not reduce the higher risk of stroke in older adults who have hypertension, high cholesterol, or diabetes.
Should Seniors Take Daily Aspirin?
There are several aspirin trials being conducted now to determine if there are some seniors who can benefit from daily aspirin therapy. With what we know about the benefits of aspirin, seniors are typically recommended to speak with their doctor and weigh the benefits against the risks, which include gastrointestinal bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke. Seniors at a high risk of stroke and those with a history of stroke and heart attack may still be recommended to take daily low-dose aspirin.
For more information on stroke prevention or to find Milwaukee post-stroke care for a senior loved one, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our compassionate caregivers can help with a wide range of daily activities, promoting a safe and efficient recovery in the comfort of home. Schedule a complimentary in-home consultation by calling (414) 964-8000.