Published: Tue, September 18, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Think Twice Before Starting to Take Daily Aspirin

Think Twice Before Starting to Take Daily Aspirin

Those who do not have a risk of heart disease or dementia, suffered a stroke, or have a "persistent physical disability", are at greater risk of suffering a bleed due to taking aspirin daily and are not proactively prolonging their lives by using it as a preventative measure.

A landmark US-Australian research has found that a low dose of aspirin will not help older adults live longer or prevent their first heart attack, instead will increase the risk of bleeding in older people.

Although the study showed obvious risks of taking aspirin, McNeil remained convinced that the drug is a relatively safe medication to use. "Unless the cardiovascular risk is very high ( 20% over ten years), prophylactic aspirin results in more harm than good". Maybe I should take it, even if they haven't really had a heart attack, ' " Murray added.

A total of 19,114 people, mostly over the age of 70, were enrolled in the study. And the findings do not apply to black or Hispanic people younger than 65 or others younger than 70.

The participants were randomly assigned to receive either 100 milligrams per day of aspirin or a placebo pill.

Doctors unexpectedly also found that the group taking aspirin died at a slightly higher rate than the placebo group, with most of those deaths attributed to cancer.

"Interpretation of these results should take into account the lower-than-expected rate of cardiovascular disease among the trial participants. most likely reflecting the relatively good health of the participant population at recruitment and the declining rate of cardiovascular disease in the two countries over time and across all age groups", the investigators suggested.

When the McNeil team looked at death from any cause, aspirin still made no difference statistically, with a rate of 12.7 per 1,000 patients each year with aspirin and 11.1 with placebo.

The study also showed an increase in the number of cases of serious bleeding among the aspirin takers (3.8 per cent), compared to the placebo group (2.8 per cent).

"We know that the evidence for the use of aspirin in those patients, who already had heart disease or other circulatory issues, they can actually prevent secondary issues, secondary episodes of either heart attacks or strokes happening in those patients", he said.

"The concern has been uncertainty about whether aspirin is beneficial for otherwise healthy older people without those conditions", director Dr. Richard J. Hodes of the National Institute on Aging, which partially funded the study and is part of the National Institutes of Health, said in a press release. This finding was surprising because nearly half of those extra deaths were due to cancer, including colorectal and other gastrointestinal cancers.

McNeil added that a small increase in deaths observed in the aspirin group, primarily from cancer, required further investigation as researchers can not rule out that it may be a chance finding.

The current guidelines recommend a daily aspirin for adults in their 50s who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a history of smoking.

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