Daily Aspirin May Lead to Anemia

Back in October of 2021, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force shocked many when they recommended against daily aspirin for heart health. It went against years of advice, but they found the bleeding risk outweighed the benefit for most people.

Evidence changes over time,” said Dr. John Wong of the task force. It can increase the risk of ulcers and other bleeding problems. The advice used to be that everyone above a certain age could benefit from aspirin. But the task force narrowed the recommendation to just people who were at high risk because of their medical history, medical condition or family history.

A new study has found another problem with daily aspirin. It may be linked to anemia. Anemia is when a person has lower oxygen levels in the blood. About 30 percent of people over the age of 75 have anemia. It’s tied to fatigue, depression, memory and cognition problems and a higher risk of death.

In a study of more than 18,000 people over 65, researchers saw that those who took aspirin were 20 percent more likely to be anemic. Half the people in the study were taking a low dose of aspirin, and half were on a placebo. The study took place over five years. The risk was the same regardless of age, sex, other health concerns and medications. People taking aspirin also had lower levels of hemoglobin and ferritin, which help oxygen levels.

Researchers said this doesn’t mean doctors should rule out daily aspirin. People at high risk for a heart attack or stroke may benefit from the regimen. However, if a person is on aspirin, the team said their blood oxygen levels should be monitored.  

Daily aspirin isn’t right for everyone. But it can benefit people at high risk for second heart attacks or strokes. There can be a good reason to take it. This new research helps doctors refine their recommendation for taking aspirin; it doesn’t mean no one should be on it.  

Medication routines generally have pros and cons. It’s a careful balance of needs and risks. If you are currently on a regimen of daily aspirin and worry that you may be impacted by anemia or other complications, speak to your doctor before stopping. Suddenly stopping a medication, even one sold over the counter, can have consequences.

Banner image: Anna Shvets via Pexels

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