Costs of daily aspirin may outweigh benefits for older adults, study finds

Costs of daily aspirin may outweigh benefits for older adults, study finds

People are prescribed aspirin after a heart attack or stroke because the drug thins the blood and reduces the chances of a repeat attack.

The student was led by researched at Monash University and was publishes in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Taking aspirin can help protect older adults who have suffered heart attacks, strokes and related complications in the past.

Researchers also found the use of low-dose aspirin did not substantially lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy older adults, and instead significantly increased their risk of major haemorrhage (bleeding that can lead to a stroke). "Aspirin is the most widely used of all preventive drugs and an answer to this question is long overdue".

But internal bleeding (hemorrhagic stroke, bleeding in the brain, gastrointestinal bleeding, and other bleeding) was found in 3.8% of patients taking aspirin versus 2.7% of those taking a placebo.

According to McNeil, these results should make those who are taking aspirin preventatively of their own accord think twice, noting that "many people take [aspirin] without medical advice". No, says a large scale study that was actually meant to study how aspirin could help!

There was also a small increase in the number of cancer deaths in the aspirin-treated group, the New York Times reports.

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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. Aspirin and placebo were supplied by Bayer, which had no other involvement with the study. "It is to the great credit to the US NIH and the Australian NHMRC that they recognised this need and underwrote the substantial cost of undertaking a study of this magnitude".

There is good evidence for people with known cardiovascular problems to take aspirin.

You might have seen the headlines saying it causes cancer and might not be effective at warding off heart attacks. "They may have been taking it for five to 10 years.so they should really go back and talk to their GP before they stop taking it". For people older than 70, the task force says it does not have enough information.

"The concern has been uncertainty about whether aspirin is beneficial for otherwise healthy older people without those conditions", director Dr. Richard J. Hodes of the National Institute on Aging, which partially funded the study and is part of the National Institutes of Health, said in a press release.

In fact, the group taking aspirin had a slightly increased risk of death - 5.9 percent died compared with 5.2 percent taking a placebo.

"Continuing follow-up of the ASPREE participants is crucial, particularly since longer term effects on risks for outcomes such as cancer and dementia may differ from those during the study to date", said Evan Hadley, M.D., director of NIA's Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology.

Aspirin is not recommended for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, have an active or previous stomach ulcer, or have a medical condition associated with bleeding. Further research that may identify which groups would benefit from regular aspirin use is underway, McNeil said.

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