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Doctors Orders Often Don't Include Taking an Aspirin

Purestock/Thinkstock(ROCHESTER, N.Y.) -- For years, millions of middle-aged Americans have taken a low-dose aspirin each day to help prevent heart attack and stroke. The question is: who told them to do so?

Now, a University of Rochester study reveals the truth and it’s pretty shocking. Most older patients who pop an aspirin a day didn’t get that advice from their physician.

The UR researchers looked at the records of nearly 3,440 people who qualified for aspirin therapy even though they didn’t exhibit any signs of heart disease. They did, however, have other health risks such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

When asked if their doctor had told them to take a low-dose aspirin daily to prevent heart attacks, stroke or cancer, only 34 percent of the men and 42 percent of the women answered in the affirmative.

So why are doctors gun-shy about recommending aspirin to middle-aged patients who could probably benefit from it?  Lead author Kevin Fiscella cites several reasons, including failure to assess whether a patient is eligible for an aspirin regimen and perhaps concerns that its disadvantages such as internal bleeding might outweigh the benefits.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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