When an older woman arrived at a Cambridge medical clinic recently, Dr. Sarah Stoneking was surprised to learn that the patient was taking an aspirin every day.
The patient was nearly 80, and didn’t have a clear reason to take the medication. Aspirin in general, and especially in older patients, can have a lot of side effects, including serious bleeding.
Stoneking, an internist and also my colleague, suggested her patient stop taking the daily aspirin, but the woman refused. She thought aspirin “was a panacea,” Stoneking recalled, one that protected her from the strokes and heart disease that had affected most of her friends. “She took it religiously,” Stoneking said.