For years, doctors and health agencies have recommended taking aspirin on a regular basis to prevent heart attack or stroke. However, an influential physician task force issued a major update on the protocol on Tuesday.

The U.S. Preventive Service Task Force said that it finalized its latest recommendation on daily doses of aspirin, saying that individuals aged 60 and older should not begin to take one aspirin per day to prevent heart problems in most cases. They cited possible health risks, including aspirin’s blood-thinning ability.

It noted that while daily aspirin usage has been associated with a lower chance of suffering a first heart attack or stroke, it runs the risk of “bleeding in the stomach, intestines, and brain,” the Task Force said. “The chance of bleeding increases with age and can be life-threatening.”

Aspirin, which is an anti-inflammatory drug, can help prevent blood clots from forming, according to studies. But because of its blood-thinning properties, some studies have shown, daily aspirin use can cause gastrointestinal bleeding or a stroke caused by a hemorrhagic, or bleeding, stroke.

“Based on new evidence since the 2016 Task Force recommendation, it is now recommended that once people turn 60 years old, they should not consider starting to take aspirin because the risk of bleeding cancels out the benefits of preventing heart disease,” added the Task Force in its statement (pdf).

People aged 40 to 59 with at least a 10 percent chance of 10-year cardiovascular disease should consider taking daily aspirin, said the group.

“Daily aspirin use may help prevent heart attacks and strokes in some people, but it can also cause potentially serious harms, such as internal bleeding,” John Wong, a member of the influential group, said in a statement. “It’s important that people who are 40 to 59 years old and don’t have a history of heart disease have a conversation with their clinician to decide together if starting to take aspirin is right for them.”

Dr. Steven Nissen, a  cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told ABC News that the public should understand that “for the vast majority of Americans without pre-existing heart disease, aspirin does not provide a net benefit.”

“The harms are approximately equal to any benefits. The [Task Force] is just catching up with this widely accepted scientific viewpoint. For nearly 20 years the FDA has advised against routine use of aspirin for prevention in patients without heart disease,” he added.

Cardiovascular disease is the top killer in the United States annually, according to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It accounts for more than one in four deaths.

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