A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports that just over half of older adults surveyed in the United States reported taking aspirin daily, despite the fact that routine use for primary prevention of heart attack or stroke is not recommended.

Approximately 2,509 U.S. adults aged 45–75 completed a 25-question web-based survey in 2012 on aspirin use, beliefs about the risks and benefits of aspirin, self-assessed cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, and discussions about regular aspirin use with healthcare providers. Demographic data and personal and family medical history was also collected. The primary outcome was regular aspirin use for prevention of a heart attack, stroke, cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s, or blood clots, or relief of pain, inflammation, or swelling. Major risk factors were defined as current smoking, personal history of high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome, and a family history of CVD. Participants also provided a subjective assessment of their CVD risk by identifying themselves as being at greater than average, average, or less than average risk of heart attack or stroke over the next 10 years vs. individuals of the same age and sex.

Of the respondents, 52% stated that they were currently taking aspirin regularly, with an additional 21% reporting past use. Of those taking aspirin, 84% were using it for prevention of heart attack, 66% for prevention of stroke, 18% for cancer prevention, and 11% for Alzheimer’s disease prevention. The most common dosage was 81mg/day (67%). Only 25% of participants who had not discussed aspirin use with a healthcare provider reported regular use, compared to 90% of those who did.