Aspirin Use by High-Risk Individuals

Improving Health Care Through Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR)

PCOR is research that compares the impact of two or more preventive, diagnostic, treatment, or health care delivery approaches on health outcomes. PCOR outcomes are those that are meaningful to patients and families, such as pain, symptoms, quality of life, and premature death. PCOR research can focus on specific clinical interventions (such as a medication or surgical procedure) or on ways of delivering care (such as the use of text messages to remind people to take a medication daily). PCOR evidence can come from individual studies, but often comes from comprehensive reviews of a large group of studies. Using PCOR evidence gives clinicians confidence that they are providing the best care to their patients.

A person pouring aspirin pills into their hand from an orange pill bottle.Rationale for Aspirin Use by High-Risk Individuals

Patients with heart disease or who have had a stroke in the past are at high risk for having a heart attack or another stroke. Substantial PCOR evidence shows that taking an aspirin every day can help these patients lower their risk. For patients with heart disease, including those who have angina or have been treated for blocked arteries, taking aspirin can prevent them from having a heart attack. For people who have already had a heart attack or stroke, aspirin use can prevent another heart attack or stroke.

Findings From PCOR

In 2011, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology Foundation (ACCF) used this PCOR evidence to develop guidelines on aspirin use in patients with heart disease and others who are at risk of heart attack or stroke (Smith, 2011).

  • The panel recommends long-term low-dose aspirin therapy (75 to 100 mg daily) for patients with heart disease. For patients intolerant or allergic to aspirin, clopidogrel (75 mg daily) can be used as an alternative.

Evidence-based guidelines from the American College of Chest Physicians make the same recommendation (Vandvik, 2012).

Evaluating and Measuring Use of PCOR-Supported Recommendations

  • The measure used by EvidenceNOW to evaluate aspirin use assesses the percentage of patients with heart disease (including those with angina and those who have been treated for blocked arteries), patients with a history of a heart attack, and patients with a history of a stroke who use aspirin or a similar drug. This measure has been endorsed by the National Quality Forum and is used by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
  • The EvidenceNOW goal is to have at least 70 percent of eligible patients cared for in primary care practices use aspirin.

Additional Tools and Resources

PCOR Evidence Sources

Page last reviewed December 2016
Page originally created October 2016
Internet Citation: Aspirin Use by High-Risk Individuals. Content last reviewed December 2016. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/evidencenow/about/pcor-evidence/aspirin-use.html