The recently released USPSTF draft guidelines may cause confusion regarding the role of aspirin. Aspirin continues to be the gold standard treatment for millions of Americans who have had a cardiovascular event.
The draft guidelines only focus on patients who take aspirin for primary prevention, which is the use of aspirin to prevent a first cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or ischemic stroke.
Importantly, the guidelines do not include patients who take a doctor-directed aspirin regimen for secondary prevention of a recurrent heart attack or ischemic stroke. The new draft guidelines have not changed the importance of aspirin for these patients. Aspirin continues to be a life-saving preventative treatment for many patients who have already had a cardiovascular event.
For those who have already experienced a heart attack, study data have shown that discontinuing an aspirin regimen could increase the risk of another heart attack by 63 percent.