By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Millions should stop taking aspirin for heart health. A new study says for healthy people, aspirin should not be taken to prevent heart attacks or strokes. For years, many have been told aspirin is heart healthy, but this research says it may be harmful for some people.

It’s now only recommended for certain patients and always only under the direction of a doctor.

Seventy-year-old Margaret Ragucci suffered a stroke a few weeks ago.

“I’m sitting there watching television, go to get up and my leg wouldn’t work,” she said. “I was in the three-hour window for somebody having a stroke. They were able to administer the medication and I walked out of there.”

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Now that she’s had a stroke, doctors put her on an aspirin regiment, which is common for stroke patients.

But a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds too many Americans are taking aspirin that don’t need it.

“Aspirin is not as helpful as we thought it was, that’s probably because other preventative treatments like blood pressure lowering and cholesterol lowering have become more important,” said Dr. Harmony Reynolds, a cardiologist at New York University.

According to the study, 29 million people in the United States are taking aspirin for prevention even though they do not have heart disease and many are taking it without their doctor knowing.

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Doctors say that aspirin is useful for heart and stroke patients to prevent blood clotting, but for some patients, especially those over the age of 70, it can be harmful.

“Aspirin can cause bleeding. It raises the risk of bleeding from the stomach or anywhere else in the body,” Reynolds said.

Ragucci says she is grateful she received the stroke treatment right away.

“I could’ve ended up in a wheelchair,” she said. “Thank God we’ve advanced.”

With a baby aspirin a day and statin medications, she’s hoping to get back to her workout routine.

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The guidelines now rule out routine aspirin use for many otherwise healthy older adults and say it’s only for certain younger people, under the direction of a doctor.

In 2017, approximately 29 million people 40 years old and older were taking an aspirin a day, despite having no known heart condition, according to a new study from Harvard and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

About 6.6 million of them were doing so on their own, without a doctor’s recommendation.

Stephanie Stahl