Think twice before starting to take daily aspirin

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In older people, any effect of aspirin on reducing heart disease or stroke might be expected to be enhanced due to their higher underlying risk.

Significant bleeding, a known risk of regular aspirin use, was associated with a significantly increased risk, primarily in the gastrointestinal tract and brain.

Taking aspirin every day does not significantly reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke in healthy people over 70, a study has found.

The study, involving 19,114 older people - 16,703 in Australia and 2,411 in the United States - began in 2010 and enrolled participants aged 70 and older.

"For a healthy person 70 and older who doesn't have an indication to be on aspirin, there really is no benefit to be on aspirin, in fact, the risks appear to outweigh the benefits in terms of increase bleeding risk and the potential for increased mortality risk", said Dr. Anne Murphy, co-principal investigator of the trial and director of the Berman Center for Outcomes and Clinical Research.

"The rate of major hemorrhage was 8.6 events per 1000 person-years and 6.2 events per 1000 person-years, respectively (hazard ratio, 1.38; 95% CI, 1.18 to 1.62; P 0.001)".

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.

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Monday, the ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial was the largest and most comprehensive clinical trial conducted in Australia.

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Popping an aspirin pill everyday doesn't help older people to live longer and it may even have the opposite effect, a new study reveals.

At the end of the study, the rate of cardiovascular disease between the two groups of participants was not much different: 9,525 of those taking the aspirin had developed cardiovascular disease compared to 9,589 of those taking the placebo.

According to these three new studies, however, taking a low-dose aspirin daily is, at best, a waste of money for healthy older adults.

"ASPREE is a study that was probably long overdue", he said.

Major risks of bleeding in people who consume aspirin on a daily basis overwhelm its benefits. One cardiologist not involved with the study notes that in the time since the original research on aspirin was done, patients can now take other medications to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and suggests it's time to "phase out" the broad use of preventative daily aspirin.

Some completely healthy people also choose to take aspirin to reduce their risk; and there is continuing research into whether the drug can be used to cut the risk of cancer. "Until we have additional data, these findings should be interpreted with caution".

Doctors last night said the findings "emphatically" showed there was no reason to use aspirin to prevent disease in healthy people and warned it may harm.

For cardiovascular disease, the rate was 10.7 events per 1000 person-years in the aspirin group and 11.3 events per 1000 person-years in the placebo group - also considered no difference.