Closeup of man getting ready to take a pill with water

A new study suggests a strong need for healthcare providers to discuss aspirin use with older patients and to review with them all of the risks and benefits of continuing aspirin treatment for cardiovascular disease prevention.

The cross-sectional study, by researchers from Johns Hopkins, Ohio State University and King Saud University,  set out to determine the prevalence of U.S. adults aged 70 or more years with and without diabetes who use aspirin for primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Researchers looked at patient age, sex and CVD risk category.

The study found preventive aspirin use to be higher among older adults with diabetes than among older adults without diabetes. Results, however, suggest that 9.9 million older U.S. adults who previously took aspirin for primary prevention would not be recommended for its continued use, particularly among those with diabetes, according to the authors. 

This guidance stems in part from the fact that aspirin can exacerbate bleeding risk and individuals with diabetes already present with increased bleeding risk compared with those without diabetes. 

Ultimately, according to the researchers, future studies should examine the influence of updating guidelines on clinician behaviors and the association of changing trends in preventive aspirin use with the development of CVD in older adults.