December 17, 2018

Aspirin a day ‘risky in old age’ finds major study

20 September 2018, 08:46 | Rodolfo Wallace

Daily low-dose aspirin found to have no effect on healthy life span in older people

A daily aspirin will not lower the risk of death or heart attacks in healthy older people but will increase the risk of internal bleeding a major study found

The ASPREE (ASpirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly) trial involved 19,000 participants from Australia and the USA, making it the largest and most comprehensive study to look at whether there are any health benefits to taking 100 milligrams of aspirin a day for older people.

The current guidelines recommend a daily aspirin for adults in their 50s who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a history of smoking.

"Despite the fact that aspirin has been around for more than 100 years, we have not known whether healthy older people should take it as a preventive measure to keep them healthy for longer". Aspirin and placebo were supplied by Bayer, which had no other involvement with the study.

But a new Australian-led study has found that's not the case. But when researchers looked at more than 19,000 people in Australia and the United States over almost five years, they found it wasn't so.

Until now, the balance between risks and benefits in older individuals was unclear, said Dr. McNeil.

He warned that the results do not apply to people with existing conditions such as a previous heart attack, angina or stroke, where aspirin is recommended to prevent further illness.

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The study found it could actually increase the risk of internal bleeding.

Instead, researchers found that aspirin use was associated with an increased risk of bleeding in the digestive tract and the brain, with 3.8 per cent of people on the drug suffering from those conditions, compared to 2.7 per cent in the placebo group. "Particularly bleeding, which is more common in older people". However, studies in younger people showed that the risks outweighed the benefits and the new research confirms that the same is true for the elderly. When blood flow to the heart is cut out, it can lead to a heart attack. In the final 12 months of the trial, 62.1 percent of the participants in the aspirin group and 64.1 percent of those in the placebo group reported that they were still taking their assigned dosage. This may have implications for healthy, elderly people around the world who take low-dose aspirin without a medical reason.

He said that the question of whether or not to prescribe aspirin to the healthy elderly is faced regularly by a typical GP.

The study found the higher death rate in the aspirin-treated group was due primarily to a higher rate of cancer deaths. After nearly five years, the researchers did not perceive a contrast between two groups as far as disability-free survival was concerned. 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.

Well, you might want to stop taking it now because a study released recently shows that small, daily doses of aspirin might do more harm than good for healthy seniors.

"Interpretation of these results should take into account the lower-than-expected rate of cardiovascular disease among the trial participants. most likely reflecting the relatively good health of the participant population at recruitment and the declining rate of cardiovascular disease in the two countries over time and across all age groups", the investigators suggested. Sure, it can help your headache, but aspirin can also prevent heart attacks, strokes, maybe even cancer, maybe even dementia.

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