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Aspirin out for heart attack, stroke prevention: Do this instead

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A 2018 clinical study found a daily low-dose aspirin had no effect on prolonging life in healthy, elderly people.
USA TODAY

After new recommendations reversed years-old advice on daily aspirin use, doctors are telling older adults that lifestyle changes can help prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Sunday, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association said a daily 75 to 100 milligrams of aspirin should no longer be given as a way to prevent atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in people older than 70 or any adult at an increased risk of bleeding. Recent research suggests continued aspirin use can cause severe bleeding and hemorrhaging

“Clinicians should be very selective in prescribing aspirin for people without known cardiovascular disease,” Roger Blumenthal, co-chair of the new ACC/AHA guidelines, said in a statement. “It’s much more important to optimize lifestyle habits and control blood pressure and cholesterol as opposed to recommending aspirin.”

Older adults currently taking a daily low-dose aspirin should contact their healthcare provider before stopping or altering their regimen, Blumenthal told USA TODAY.

Select people with high risk of cardiovascular disease and a “very low risk of bleeding” might still be advised by their doctor to take aspirin, Blumenthal said. Aside from prevention, aspirin might still be recommended to people who’ve already had a heart attack, stroke, open-heart surgery or stents. 

More: Don’t take an aspirin a day to prevent heart attacks and strokes: Doctors reverse recommendation

The ACC and AHA say these are the best ways to avoid heart attacks and strokes:

Eat these foods

A diet full of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains and fish is best for overall cardiovascular health, according to the ACC. Limit eating salt, saturated fats, fried foods, processed meats and drinking sweetened beverages

More: Sugary drinks linked to increased risk of early death, study suggests

Regularly exercise

Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. This could include brisk walking, swimming, dancing or cycling. 

More: 1.4 billion people aren’t exercising, WHO reveals. Here’s why that’s a big problem

Keep a healthy weight

For people who are obese or overweight, losing just five to 10 percent of body weight can decrease their risk of heart disease, stroke and other health issues, according to the ACC. 

Don’t smoke

Avoid tobacco by not smoking, vaping or breathing in smoke. One in every three deaths from heart disease are linked to smoking or secondhand smoke. 

More: No smoking? Hawaii lawmaker wants to say goodbye to cigarettes forever

Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets

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