Aspirin may raise heart failure risk if you have one of these conditions, study says

·3 min read

A new study suggests people with heart failure or any risk factors for the condition should think twice before taking aspirin.

Research on nearly 31,000 people found aspirin use was associated with a 26% increased risk of a new heart failure diagnosis in people with at least one health condition, including smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

The results held true even after researchers excluded the 22,690 people with a history of heart disease — a major contributor to the condition; The risk of heart failure in the updated cohort jumped to 27%.

The findings are observational, meaning aspirin use is not guaranteed to cause heart failure in people with one or more predisposing risk factors, but the association is enough to raise awareness among those who may be more likely to develop the condition, researchers say in their study published Nov. 22 in the journal European Society of Cardiology.

“This is the first study to report that among individuals with at least one risk factor for heart failure, those taking aspirin were more likely to subsequently develop the condition than those not using the medication,” study author Dr. Blerim Mujaj of the University of Freiburg in Germany, said in a news release. “While the findings require confirmation, they do indicate that the potential link between aspirin and heart failure needs to be clarified.”

The study included 30,827 people enrolled in the HOMAGE study in Western Europe and the U.S. who were at risk for developing heart failure but never developed the condition before the study began.

Participants were an average age of 67 and 25% initially reported taking aspirin regularly. Throughout the study’s 5.3 year follow-up period, 1,330 people developed heart failure, many of them aspirin users.

About 6.2 million adults in the U.S. develop heart failure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It occurs when your heart cannot efficiently pump blood and oxygen to your other organs. Although serious, the condition does not mean your heart stops beating, the CDC says.

Guidance on aspirin use is complicated

People who have had a heart attack or stroke are typically prescribed daily low doses of aspirin to prevent future events, according to the American Heart Association.

That’s because most heart attacks and strokes happen when blood supply to your heart or brain is cut off by a buildup of cholesterol, calcium and other cellular waste called plaque. When this buildup ruptures, blood clots form.

Aspirin works by thinning your blood, preventing clots from forming.

The American Heart Association says you shouldn’t take aspirin daily without first talking to your doctor. Taking the medication without a history of heart attack or stroke introduces bleeding risks; And “if you’re over 70, taking aspirin to prevent a first heart attack or stroke could do more harm than good,” the group says.

A 2019 study found about 29 million people in the U.S. take aspirin every day to prevent heart disease, including 6.6 million who do so without a doctor’s recommendation. Nearly half of adults ages 70 and older also take aspirin daily despite not having heart disease.

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