Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Roughly half of all adults age 75 and older in the United States take aspirin or a statin to prevent the onset of heart disease, despite the limited benefits of these drugs for older people, a study published Thursday by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found.
Just over 45% of people aged 75 years and older nationally reported using aspirin, which acts as a blood thinner to reduce the risk for heart attack and stroke.
In addition, 56% indicated they take prescription statins such as atorvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin and rosuvastatin to lower cholesterol and reduce their risk for heart disease.
Currently, daily aspirin is only recommended for adults 50 to 70 years old, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Statins can prevent heart problems in those with a history of heart attack or stroke, but they have also been linked with serious side effects in older adults, according to the researchers.
"Healthcare providers should inform their older patients about appropriate aspirin use so that they can avoid misuse of aspirin, which can be easily purchased over the counter," study co-author Greg Rhee said in a press release.
"Ultimately, safer prescribing practice, patient education and patient-oriented effectiveness research should be continually encouraged to reduce potential harms and improve cardiovascular health in older adults," said Rhee, an assistant professor of public health sciences at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington.
The study's findings are based on a survey of 11,392 adults age 50 and older in the United States that was conducted between 2011 and 2018.