Published: Tue, September 18, 2018
Health Care | By Edgar Pierce

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

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

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. 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.

For people trying to prevent a second heart attack or stroke, evidence in support of baby aspirin therapy remains strong. The researchers then followed the study's participants for a median of 4.7 years.

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.

A small increase in new cancer cases was reported in the group taking aspirin, but the research team said the difference could have been due to chance.

He said low-dose aspirin can be recommended to people who have a history of heart attack or stroke.

Professor John McNeil, head of Monash University's Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine, said the research sought to answer a question which has been "unresolved for a number of years".

Among the people randomly assigned to take aspirin, 90.3 per cent remained alive at the end of the treatment without persistent physical disability or dementia, compared with 90.5 per cent of those taking a placebo.

Aspirin has been touted as preventing heart attacks and strokes in people with vascular conditions such as coronary artery disease.

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The results of the Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly trial were published in three papers in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Using the help of Global Positioning System, researchers recruited 16,703 older people in Australian and 2411 in the United States, with approximately 9500 people in both the aspirin and the placebo group.

"We knew there would an increased risk of bleeding with aspirin, because there has always been", said study coauthor Dr. Anne Murray, a geriatrician and epidemiologist at the Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute and the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. "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".

And if that weren't enough, the third study also found that aspirin may have "higher all-cause mortality. among apparently healthy older adults who received daily aspirin than among those who received [a] placebo and was attributed primarily to cancer-related death".

Hadley noted only 11 percent of participants had regularly taken low-dose aspirin before entering the study.

"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.

"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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