‘Wonder drug’ aspirin’s harms outweighs its benefits in healthy elderly

‘Wonder drug’ aspirin’s harms outweighs its benefits in healthy elderly

‘Wonder drug’ aspirin’s harms outweighs its benefits in healthy elderly

The landmark study involving more than 19,000 people aged over 70 has shown that taking a low dose (100mg) of aspirin every day will not prolong life or prevent disability, despite common beliefs the pill helps healthy seniors live longer. As new preventive opportunities arise they will typically require large clinical trials, and the structure of the Australian health system has proven an ideal setting for this type of study. McNeil added it was important to focus on this cohort because aspirin is used by healthy, older people in the hopes that it will keep them well, with some even taking it without a prescription from their physician.

The doctors found that taking a daily low-dose aspirin did not decrease the risk of heart attack or stroke among participants when compared with the placebo group. Hemorrhagic stroke, bleeding in the brain, gastrointestinal bleeding and bleeding in other sites that required transfusion or hospitalization occurred in 361, or 3.8 percent, of participant in the aspirin-treated group and 265, or 2.7 percent, of those in the placebo group.

"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 group taking aspirin had an increased risk of death compared to the placebo group- 5.9 per cent of participants taking aspirin and 5.2 per cent taking placebo died during the study.

Roughly half of participants were given 100 mg of low-dose aspirin, while the rest were given a placebo. The authors said that "these findings should be interpreted with caution" until more studies are completed, particularly because other research has concluded that the drug helps reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

A team of researchers from Monash University in Melbourne published their findings from a seven-year study in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, on Sunday. "Aspirin is a double-edged sword; it is absolutely essential drug and a lifesaver in patients with established heart disease (or arterial blockages) and many patients with diabetes where risk is high". It was called the Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial.

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While evidence remains strong that baby aspirin therapy aids in preventing a second heart attack or stroke, the study explored whether a first heart attack can be prevented by the small amount of blood thinners in aspirin.

"But we have not identified results that are strikingly different", McNeil said in an email.

But aspirin's adverse effects (mainly bleeding) might also be increased as older people are at higher risk of bleeding.

For those who had previously survived a cardiovascular event, regular aspirin was beneficial, the study found.

"If they have such disease in the past, they need to take the aspirin to prevent the recurrence of similar disease in the future", he said.

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