What's Behind the USPSTF's Aspirin Guidance

Aspirin recommendation from USPSTF was backed by systematic evidence reviews and a modeling paper

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) just released new guidance on daily aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD) and colorectal cancer. But what was behind that recommendation?

Three large, systematic evidence reviews and a modeling paper, as it turns out. That means three studies, conducted on behalf of the USPSTF and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, looked back at other studies on aspirin's role in CVD and colorectal cancer prevention and found that it could lower those risks for some patients.

But these reviews also confirmed some past findings on daily aspirin's role in gastrointestinal bleeding risk, a potentially deadly complication.

To clarify these findings, the USPSTF conducted a study that modeled the risks and benefits of daily aspirin use. Here's what the task force found:

  • Aspirin's positive effects would likely be maximized, and the negative effects minimized, in patients who begin taking it daily between the ages of 40 and 69 and who have a raised CVD risk.
  • For patients without a raised CVD risk, the benefits did not appear to outweigh the harms in the modeling study.

In the end, though, even the USPSTF says the decision on whether to take a daily aspirin should come down to individual doctor and patient preferences.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 8, 2016
Last Updated:
April 11, 2016