The Irish College of General Practitioners has advised that people should not take aspirin daily, on their own initiative, to prevent a heart attack or stroke.

It follows research in the UK warning of the danger of serious intestinal bleeding.

Dr Mel Bates of the ICGP said that low-dose aspirin is prescribed by doctors to prevent further heart disease in people who have already had a heart attack or stroke.

In the UK researchers at the Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin say the use of aspirin to ward off heart attacks and stroke in those who have no obvious disease should be abandoned and doctors should review all patients currently taking the drug.

Aspirin is the most commonly prescribed drug in the medical card scheme with over two million prescriptions in Ireland last year.

Today the Irish Medicines Board said that aspirin sold over the counter is authorised only for the treatment of pain relief.

It said aspirin for treatment following a heart attack, for people with unstable angina and stroke is a prescription only medicine and should only be taken on the advice of a GP or heathcare professional.