'Aspirin-a-day risky in old age' - major study

18 September, 2018, 12:18 | Author: Cynthia Curry
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In older people, any effect of aspirin on reducing heart disease or stroke might be expected to be enhanced due to their higher underlying risk. "If you look at the new findings, at best it's neutral and at worst it increases the bleeding risk".

"It means millions of healthy older people around the world who are taking low dose aspirin without a medical reason, may be doing so unnecessarily, because the study showed no overall benefit to offset the risk of bleeding", the researchers said in a statement.

Even worse, a third study on the topic found that those who used aspirin each day had a "higher all-cause mortality" among seemingly healthy older people than those who did not take aspirin.

The participants were followed for around 4.7 years and could also not have dementia or a physical disability and had to be free of medical conditions.

"This study shows why it is so important to conduct this type of research, so that we can gain a fuller picture of aspirin's benefits and risks among healthy older persons". The new study was created to find out whether low-dose aspirin could prolong healthy, independent living in seniors who had not shown signs of heart disease.

Dr Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Ageing (NIA) in the U.S., said: 'Clinical guidelines note the benefits of aspirin for preventing heart attacks and strokes in persons with vascular conditions such as coronary artery disease. In the final 12 months of the trial, 62.1 percent of the participants in the aspirin group and 64.1 percent of those in the placebo group reported that they were still taking their assigned dosage.

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Heart disease and stroke accounted for 19 per cent of the deaths and major bleeding for five per cent. Hemorrhagic stroke, bleeding in the brain, gastrointestinal hemorrhages or hemorrhages at other sites that required transfusion or hospitalization occurred in 361 people on aspirin and in 265 taking the placebo.

In the meantime, experts are warning against healthy people simply popping an aspirin every day and believing it will fix everything that ails them.

"ASPREE is a study that was probably long overdue", he said.

"I think it is time we started to phase out the use of aspirin broadly for the purposes of prevention in individuals who have not had a heart attack or stroke", said Michos, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology and director of preventive cardiology at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

The small increase in deaths, mostly from cancer, may be coincidental and needs more study, the authors said. Numerous extra deaths were due to cancer, but Leslie Ford from the National Cancer Institute in Maryland said that until the team had analysed more data, the cancer findings "should be interpreted with caution".

For cardiovascular disease, the rate was 10.7 events per 1000 person-years in the aspirin group and 11.3 events per 1000 person-years in the placebo group - also considered no difference.

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