Researchers Recommend Low-Dose Aspirin for High-Risk Cardiovascular and Colon Cancer Patients

Low-dose aspirin intake can benefit adult patients who exhibit a high risk for both cardiovascular-related events and colorectal cancer, reported the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

Low-dose aspirin intake can benefit adult patients who exhibit a high risk for both cardiovascular-related events and colorectal cancer, reported the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

An independent panel of experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine, the USPSTF awarded the recommendation a “B” grade — meaning that the evidence shows there is a moderate-to-high chance the benefits of low-dose aspirin outweigh the harms.

Specifically, the USPSTF recommendations applied to men and women 50-59 years of age who have at least a 10% or greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease over 10 years and are not at increased risk for bleeding.

The recommendations stipulate the patients must have a 10-year life expectancy and be willing to take low-dose aspirin for at least 10 years.

Carol A. Burke, MD, FACG, President-Elect of the American College of Gastroenterology, said in a news release, “While aspirin use is ubiquitous, it is not innocuous. It increases the risk of abdominal discomfort, and peptic ulcer, as well as gastrointestinal bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke, which both can be fatal.”

Additionally, patients who are at the highest risk of gastrointestinal bleeding are men, elderly over 70 years of age, patients with peptic ulcer and prior GI bleeding, people with Helicobacter pylori infection or uncontrolled hypertension, or those who use other antiplatelet agents.

However, according to Burke, the risk of aspirin-related side effects increase with the dosage.

With the release of these new recommendations, members of the USPSTF reinforced the importance of accurate patient assessment.

“It is important for GI physicians to understand these recommendations and especially their nuances, to apply them to our patients, and to help our primary care colleagues balance the benefit of aspirin for colorectal cancer prevention with the risk of GI hemorrhage,” concluded Aasma Shaukat, MD, MPH, FACG at the University of Minnesota.