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URMC / Research / Research@URMC / August 2014 / Physicians Don’t Often Suggest Aspirin to Prevent Disease

Physicians Don’t Often Suggest Aspirin to Prevent Disease

bottle of aspirinAspirin has been called a wonder drug, but a new study shows that a majority of people eligible to take it as a preventive therapy don’t recall their doctors ever telling them to do so.

Led by author Kevin A. Fiscella, M.D., M.P.H., professor of Family Medicine at the UR, the study’s findings illustrate a common disconnect between public health guidelines and what occurs in clinical practice.

Researchers analyzed data from 3,439 patients (a national sample) who did not have cardiovascular disease but qualified for aspirin therapy based on a 10-year risk score for factors such as diabetes, hypertension, and smoking status. Despite established guidelines by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force regarding aspirin, only 34 percent of the men and 42 percent of the women said they were told by a doctor to consider taking aspirin to prevent heart disease. Other studies have touted the benefits of aspirin to prevent some cancers.

However, co-author John Bisognano, M.D., Ph.D., director of outpatient cardiology services at UR Medicine, said doctors are not always enthusiastic to quickly embrace preventive guidelines, particularly when they involve wide-ranging interventions for a large segment of the population.

Recommendations change as science evolves, and uncertainty about the benefits of aspirin versus potential harms like bleeding in the digestive track, also hinders physicians’ decisions, he said.

To see the full study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, click here.

To read the UR press release, click here.

Leslie Orr | 8/7/2014

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