These new guidelines come from the U.S. Preventive Medicine Task Force and are more specific in advice — in essence narrowing the window for those who should be popping a baby aspirin each day.

It’s everyone with a risk factor for heart disease or stroke between the ages of 50-59. So let’s say you are in this age group and you have high cholesterol: these guidelines say an aspirin is for you. And if you’re between 60-69, aspirin still might be a good idea although the evidence isn’t so clear cut. We’ll talk about everyone else in a sec.

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But not all docs are on board with these guidelines. That’s because aspirin can cause bleeding in the stomach, intestines and brain. And we have no idea who might get that bleeding ahead of time. Finally, we don’t like blanket recommendations.

In years past, the FDA has said aspirin should only be taken by people who have had a heart attack. The reason, aspirin thins the blood a tad (by working on platelets), and lessens the risk of a clot forming in a heart artery. But now, the USPMTF says even if you haven’t had a heart attack, that aspirin may be a good idea.

How about people who are younger than 50 or older than 70? They say — decide on a case-by-case basis. And if no risk factors, maybe aspirin is not for you, no matter your age or gender.

As for the other thing that’s new, the Task Force says aspirin may prevent colon cancer if you take it every day for at least 10 years. The evidence on this is pretty solid for many age groups (So why not start it earlier than 50 if you need at least 10 years? They didn’t say).

Bottom line: this is a recommendation, not a “must do.”

I still think it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting an aspirin regimen. I’ve been taking one each day since my early 40s since I have a family history of early heart disease. But that’s me, and you are you.

Final points:

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More is not better. A baby aspirin, 81mg, does the trick.

Take it at night so it’s in your system come morning, the most common time for clots to form in the heart (most heart attacks happen between 6-10 am).

Caution with ibuprofen and products like Aleve — they don’t mix well with aspirin, and may cancel out the clot protection. (Plus never use when also taking blood thinners).

And get your doctor’s opinion before any of the above.




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