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Stopping unneeded aspirin may prevent dangerous bleeding
Research we're watching
- By Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
Many people who take the clot-preventing drug warfarin (Coumadin) may also take aspirin, despite not having a clear reason to do so. A new study suggests that if doctors identify these people and take them off aspirin, it may prevent dangerous bleeding.
The study included more than 6,700 people who were taking warfarin to treat blood clots in the veins (venous thromboembolism) or prevent clots from atrial fibrillation, along with low-dose aspirin. Researchers then asked the participants’ primary care doctors to review whether their patients had a specific reason for taking aspirin and if not, to discuss stopping it. Aspirin raises the risk of bleeding, especially when taken with warfarin. So current guidelines recommend low-dose aspirin for only certain people — mainly those who’ve already had a heart attack.
Among the people who didn’t need it, aspirin use dropped by about 47%. During the two-year study, the risk of bleeding complications went down by about 32% among those who stopped aspirin. The findings, published Sept. 1, 2022, in JAMA Network Open, reinforce the importance of talking with your doctor about whether you should start or stop taking low-dose aspirin.
Image: © TEK IMAGE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/ /Getty Images
About the Author
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
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