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Health & Medicine for Senior Citizens

Daily Aspirin Drops Heart Risk 10%; Jumps Bleeding Risk 30%; No Benefit to Heart Disease Patients

Lead author warns people with an established history of heart conditions must not stop taking their medication

Jan. 17, 2012 - People without a history of cardiovascular disease (such as heart attack or stroke) are unlikely to benefit from a regular dose of aspirin, given the associated risk of internal bleeding. Aspirin does reduce the risk of clots forming in blood vessels and thereby protects against heart disease and stroke, but maybe less than previously thought.

This is the finding of the largest study to date into the effects of aspirin in people without established cardiovascular conditions.

Aspirin is widely used to prevent a repeat heart attack or stroke among people who have already suffered from one of these conditions, known in the medical field as secondary prevention.


Related Archive Stories


Taking Aspirin Prior to Cardiac Surgery Aids Recovery, Prevents Complications, Early Death

‘This outcome could lead to new preoperative treatment standards in cardiac medicine’

Dec. 5, 2011

Deaths from Many Common Cancers Reduced Significantly by Daily Low-Dose Aspirin

A daily low-dose aspirin known to fight heart disease, now proven as a powerful weapon against cancer in Oxford study - Dec. 7, 2010

Aspirin Cuts Death Risk in Half for Prostate Cancer Victims Using Radiation or Surgery

Prior studies have shown anticoagulants like aspirin hinder cancer growth & spread - Oct. 25, 2010

Aspirin Back in Spotlight: Lowers Death Risk from Any Cause for Colorectal Cancer Victims

Regular aspirin use after diagnosis associated with 29% lower risk for colorectal cancer death and a 21% lower risk for overall mortality - Aug. 13, 2009

More Links to Aspirin Reports below news story.


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“I stop a lot more aspirin than I start,” Dr. Alison Bailey, director of the cardiac rehabilitation program at the Gill Heart Institute at the University of Kentucky, told the New York Times.

“People don’t even consider aspirin a medicine, or consider that you can have side effects from it. That’s the most challenging part of aspirin therapy.”

Many medical experts have also prescribed regular aspirin as a primary prevention technique – a precaution among people without a previous history of heart attack or stroke, but who may be considered at increased risk of these conditions in the future due to the presence of risk factors for heart attacks or strokes.

Researchers from Professor Kausik Ray’s group at St George’s, University of London investigated the drug’s effectiveness in primary prevention and the prevalence of side effects. They also assessed if aspirin had any impact on the risk of death from cancer among people considered at risk of cardiovascular disease.

They analyzed data from nine clinical trials involving over 100,000 participants without a history of cardiovascular disease. Half of the participants took aspirin and half took a placebo. The average participant in the aspirin arm of these trials took aspirin for about six years.

The researchers found that although aspirin in conventional daily or alternate day doses reduced the risk of total cardiovascular disease events by 10 per cent, this was largely due to a reduction in non-fatal heart attacks. It did not include a reduction in other cardiovascular disease events including death from heart attack, or fatal or non-fatal stroke.

The study also showed that this benefit was almost entirely offset by a 30 per cent increase in risk of life-threatening or debilitating internal bleeding events. This means that while one cardiovascular disease event was averted for every 120 people treated with aspirin for about six years, one in 73 people suffered from potentially significant bleeding during the same period.

The lead author of this report, Dr. Rao Seshasai, emphasizes that people with an established history of heart conditions must not stop taking their medication:

“The beneficial effect of aspirin on preventing future cardiovascular disease events in people with established heart attacks or strokes is indisputable. We urge people with these conditions not to discontinue their medication unless advised to do so by their physicians for valid reasons.

“However, the benefits of aspirin in those individuals not known to have these conditions are far more modest than previously believed and, in fact, aspirin treatment may potentially result in considerable harm due to major bleeding. Hence, it would be worthwhile to review the existing recommendations, such as the US Preventive Services Task Force guidelines and the Joint British Societies’ Guidelines, for the use of this agent in low-risk populations, and consider aspirin treatment more selectively on a case-by-case basis.”

By concurrently investigating the effects that aspirin had on death from cancer in the same population, the researchers found that, contrary to some recent reports, aspirin did not reduce the risk of death from all cancers.

Dr. Seshasai added that: “There is an enormous interest in understanding the role of aspirin in cancer prevention. No evidence of benefit was found in the studies reviewed, but more research is needed given these were only of six years in duration.”

The results of this study are published in the Archives of Internal Medicine online.

Links to More Archived Stories about Aspirin

Brain Microbleeds in Senior Citizens May Be Associated with Aspirin, Similar Drugs

This dangerous bleeding occurs when the walls of blood vessels in the brain become weakened

April 13, 2009

Polypill Cuts Cardiovascular Risk in Half with No Additional Side Affects

Magic pill contains three blood pressure lowering drugs, a statin and aspirin

March 30, 2009

New Task Force Recommendations Call for Aspirin Use by Older People Up to Age 80

Aspirin protects senior men from heart attack, senior women from stroke

March 17, 2009

Common Painkillers Like Aspirin Seem to Lower PSA Level that Predicts Prostate Cancer

Not enough data to say that men who took the medications were less likely to get prostate cancer

Sept. 8, 2008

Senior Citizens Taking Ibuprofen for Pain, Aspirin for Stroke are at Risk

‘…interaction between aspirin and ibuprofen… one of the best-known, but well-kept secrets in stroke medicine’

March 13, 2008

Lack of Statin, Aspirin Therapy May be Why Women Trail Men in Decline of Cardiovascular Deaths

Only 78.1% of women treated with statins, 90.8% of men; men 6 times more likely to get aspirin, beta-blockers, too

March 7, 2008

Aspirin, NSAIDS May Reduce Breast Cancer by 20 Percent, Large Study Finds

May also help in treating women with established breast cancer

March 6, 2008

Older Stroke, Heart Attack Victims Most Likely to Benefit from Aspirin Therapy

‘Aspirin Failure’ leaving 20% of all ages unprotected from second stroke, heart attack

Feb. 26, 2008

Ability of Aspirin-Like Drug Salsalate to Lower Glucose in Diabetics Begins Trial

University of Illinois one of 16 sites needing volunteers in large NIH clinical trial

Aug. 24, 2007

Increased Use of 5 Preventive Services Could Save 100,000 Americans Each Year

Simply taking an aspirin daily could prevent 45,000 deaths

Aug. 15, 2007

Senior Citizens Taking NSAIDS Like Aspirin Reduce Risk of Colorectal Cancer

Safer drugs needed before therapy can be recommended, researchers say

July 24, 2007

Aspirin and Older Women: Doesn't Stop Mental Decline, Less Effective for Heart Disease than for Men

Two new studies continue the mystery of aspirin therapy for women

May 2, 2007

Women Taking Aspirin Show Reduced Risk of Death from Any Cause Says Study

Editorial challenges findings based on ‘accumulated evidence’

March 26, 2007

Senior Citizens Most Likely to be Impacted by New Recommendation on Pain Relief Drugs

Heart Association concerned by frequent use of COX-2 inhibitors for those at risk of heart disease

NSAIDs, with the exception of aspirin, increase risk for heart attack and stroke.

Feb. 28, 2007

Older Men Regularly Taking Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers have Risk of High Blood Pressure

Previous studies of women have found similar results

Feb. 26, 2007

Older Women May Take Low Dose Aspirin Says New Heart Risk Guidelines for Women

Focus on lifetime heart disease risk by American Heart Association

Feb. 20, 2007

Failure to Give Aspirin to Cancer Patients with Heart Attacks is Deadly Error

Nine out of ten who did not get aspirin died says study, January 19, 2007


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