Published: Wed, September 19, 2018
Medical | By Jackie Banks

Your Daily Aspirin Use Could Be Hurting You, Research Shows

Your Daily Aspirin Use Could Be Hurting You, Research Shows

He said all patients should follow the advice of their doctor about their daily use of aspirin. And it had been apparent since the 1990s there was a lack of adequate evidence to support the use of low-dose aspirin in healthy older people.

Lead researcher Professor John McNeil, of Monash University, Australia, said the findings show many older people may be taking the medicine "unnecessarily".

Researchers, however, recognised and stressed the fact that according to previous research, those who have a history of heart attacks or strokes do benefit from the daily aspirin use, and that it outweighs the possible risks.

The randomised double-blind trial, called ASPREE, was conducted by Monash University in Australia and the Berman Centre for Outcomes and Clinical Research in the United States.

Participants took either 100 milligrams of aspirin every day or a placebo.

Aspirin users also showed a higher risk of all-cause mortality (12.7 versus 11.1 per 1,000 person-years, HR 1.14, 95% CI 1.01-2.19), which was driven by cancer deaths (6.7 versus 5.1 per 1,000 person-years, HR 1.31, 95% CI 1.10-1.56).

Clinically significant bleeding - hemorrhagic stroke, bleeding in the brain, gastrointestinal hemorrhages or other hemorrhages that required transfusion or hospitalisation - occurred in 3.8 per cent on aspirin and in 2.7 per cent taking the placebo.

However the authors said the small increase in deaths, primarily from cancer, requires further investigation and may be coincidental.

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A large clinical trial involving participants in Australia and the U.S. found a daily low-dose aspirin had no effect on prolonging life in healthy, elderly people. The study titled ASPREE (Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly) trial, appeared in the latest issue of the journal New England Journal of Medicine.

ASPREE has provided this answer, Professor McNeil said.

Professor McNeil said, "These findings will help inform prescribing doctors who have always been uncertain about whether to recommend aspirin to healthy patients who do not have a clear medical reason for doing so".

"We found there was no discernible benefit of aspirin on prolonging independent, healthy life for the elderly", Dr. Anne Murray, one of the authors of the study and an epidemiologist and geriatrician at Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis, told National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Rob Stein.

"This gives pause and a reason for older people and their physician to think carefully about the decision whether to take low-dose aspirin regularly or not", Hadley says. Caution was advised for this particular finding since the follow-up period (five years) may have limited the ability to observe benefits such as the reduced risk of colorectal cancer.

Among the people assigned to take aspirin, 90.3 percent remained alive at the end of the treatment without persistent physical disability or dementia. The study confirmed that a daily baby aspirin increases the risk for serious, potentially life-threatening bleeding.

The Heart Foundation does not recommend that people who do not have coronary heart disease take daily aspirin. On the contrary they may be grievously harmed by them. Heart disease and stroke accounted for 19 percent of the deaths and major bleeding for 5 percent. The patients who took aspirin didn't report differences in dementia or physical disability compared to the control group.

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