Published: Thu, September 20, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Aspirin doesn't reduce heart attack risk: Australian study

Aspirin doesn't reduce heart attack risk: Australian study

SUNDAY, Sept. 16, 2018 (HealthDay News) - There's disappointing news for seniors: A new trial shows that taking daily low-dose aspirin doesn't prolong healthy, independent living in otherwise healthy people aged 70 and older. But a large, worldwide study has found the drug was unlikely to extend the lives of healthy people over the age of 70. All participants had to be free of dementia or a physical disability. They were followed for a median of 4.7 years. "But in Hong Kong, the traditional teaching is to recommend aspirin to prevent recurrence of heart attack or stroke", Choi said, adding he believed aspirin did not have to be given to healthy people. This may have implications for healthy, elderly people around the world who take low-dose aspirin without a medical reason.

Professor McNeil said aspirin remains a relatively safe medication but more research was needed to investigate the longer-term benefits and risks of its daily use.

ASPREE was led by Monash University in Australia and the Berman Center for Outcomes and Clinical Research in the USA.

The researchers stressed, however, that the cancer finding might have been a fluke.

But a landmark study by Monash University has found little evidence supporting that. Aspirin and placebo were supplied by Bayer, which had no other involvement with the study.

And researchers found taking low doses of aspirin each day had potentially serious side effects.

In addition, those who took aspirin had a slightly higher likelihood of dying over the course of the study (5.9 percent) than those who took the placebo (5.2 percent).

Among the people assigned to take aspirin, 90.3 percent remained alive at the end of the treatment without persistent physical disability or dementia.

Instead, there was a slight increase in the incidence of serious bleeding: 3.8% in the aspirin group and 2.8% in the placebo group. It also showed a higher rate of suffering from a major hemorrhage.

The small increase in deaths, mostly from cancer, may be coincidental and needs more study, the authors said.

The researchers also analyzed the ASPREE results to determine whether cardiovascular events took place.

Around half of the participants took a 100mg low dose of aspirin daily, while the others were given a placebo.

When the researchers looked at death, disability and dementia, they found virtually no difference between the aspirin-taking group and the group given a placebo: 21.5 events per 1000 person-years in the former and 21.2 per 1000 person-years in the latter. Significant hemorrhage occurrences elementarily involved upper gastrointestinal and intracranial bleeding.

There are proven benefits of the drug for people after a heart attack or stroke. Heart disease and stroke accounted for 19 percent of the deaths and major bleeding for 5 percent. "Analysis of all the cancer-related data from the trial is under way and until we have additional data, these findings should be interpreted with caution".

"Many people are taking aspirin for important medical reasons", McNeil said.

Surprisingly, those who took daily aspirin also appeared to be more likely to die overall, apparently from an increased risk of succumbing to cancer. "The ASPREE team is continuing to analyze the results of this study and has implemented plans for monitoring participants".

An aspirin a day may not keep the doctor away, new research suggests.

Rates of cardiovascular events, such as coronary heart disease, non-fatal heart attacks and strokes, were similar across both groups, the study found. In addition, the study did not address aspirin's effects in people younger than age 65.

Scientists looked at almost 20,000 healthy Australians and Americans aged over 70, and found taking low doses of aspirin for five years had no benefits - and it actually caused some harm.

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