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Task force shifts advice on aspirin use for preventing heart disease and strokes

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on Tuesday posted preliminary changes to its guidance on older adults taking aspirin to prevent heart disease and strokes. 

The task force is an independent panel of national experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine. In its draft statement, which was posted so the public can submit comments on it through Nov. 8, the task force recommends that adults between the ages of 40 and 59 who do not have a history of cardiovascular disease but are at a higher risk of getting it talk with their doctors about whether they should start taking aspirin. This is the first time the panel has suggested adults in their 40s communicate with their physicians about whether to take aspirin for heart health, CNN reports.

Additionally, the draft states that adults 60 and older should not start taking aspirin to prevent heart disease and stroke, as there is new evidence indicating bleeding risks outweigh the potential benefits.

"The latest evidence is clear: Starting a daily aspirin regimen in people who are 60 or older to prevent a first heart attack or stroke is not recommended," task force member Dr. Chien-Wen Tseng said in a statement. "However, this task force recommendation is not for people already taking aspirin for a previous heart attack or stroke. They should continue to do so unless told otherwise by their clinician."

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing roughly 1 in 4 deaths.