Rates of aspirin therapy for the prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) fall below optimal levels, as about 70% of adults with existing ASCVD reported taking aspirin every day or every other day. Data from this survey appears in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Data on reported use of aspirin or other antiplatelet agents for secondary ASCVD prevention varied significantly, from 54% in outpatient visits for those with ischemic vascular disease to 98% at the time of discharge for acute coronary syndrome. Information from the 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an annual phone survey, was reviewed on the prevalence of regular aspirin therapy (taken every day or every other day) for secondary prevention of myocardial infarction, ischemic stroke, and fatal coronary events among 17,984 community-dwelling adults with preexisting ASCVD. Participants were considered to have preexisting ASCVD if they reported a history of coronary heart disease or stroke.

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A total of 70.8% of these adults reported using aspirin regularly, with 93.6% using it for heart attack prevention, 79.6% for stroke prevention, and 76.2% for both heart attack and stroke prevention. About 15% who reported regular aspirin use said that they also used it for pain relief and 4.2% used aspirin for pain relief only. Regular users of aspirin were more likely to be aged ≥65 years, male, non-Hispanic whites, or have at least two ASCVD risk factors.

This suboptimal level of regular aspirin therapy emphasizes the need for community- and clinician-based interventions to promote aspirin use among those with preexisting ASCVD. In addition, interventions targeting specific subgroups, such as those aged <65 years, women, and black and Hispanic patients might reduce disparities in aspirin use.

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