Friday, 19 October, 2018


Daily aspirin unlikely to help healthy older people live longer, study finds

Patty Aguilar | 17 September, 2018, 23:43

Major risks of bleeding in people who consume aspirin on a daily basis overwhelm its benefits.

The participants were followed for around 4.7 years and could also not have dementia or a physical disability and had to be free of medical conditions.

A low daily dose of the blood-thinning medicine has limited health benefits for older people hoping to prolong good health, a study involving more than 19,000 participants found.

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

McNeil added that a small increase in deaths observed in the aspirin group, primarily from cancer, required further investigation as researchers can not rule out that it may be a chance finding.

"The increase in cancer deaths in study participants in the aspirin group was surprising, given prior studies suggesting aspirin use improved cancer outcomes", Dr. Leslie Ford, associate director for clinical research in the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Prevention, said. "But not only did it not decrease risk of disability or death, it did not decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke, and there was an increase in the rate of death".

Indeed, the second study details that "the risk of major hemorrhage was significantly higher with aspirin than with a placebo". "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".

When the participants were followed up almost five years later, doctors found that compared with the placebo, a daily aspirin had not reduced the risk of heart attack or stroke, or prolonged the number of years people lived without dementia or physical disabilities.

The big difference between the groups was in the rate of internal bleeding.

The study also showed slightly higher rates of death in those taking aspirin, primarily from cancer, although the results were not statistically significant, he said.

Until now, the balance between risks and benefits in older individuals was unclear, said Dr McNeil. The authors added, "In the context of previous studies, this result was unexpected and should be interpreted with caution".

Cardiologist Dr. Erin Michos called the results, "alarming", saying that aspirin should be prescribed only selectively. Patients now get statins to lower cholesterol and anti-hypertensive medications to lower blood pressure.

In the UK, GPs generally do not advise aspirin for pensioners who have not previously suffered cardiovascular problems, such as a heart attack or stroke.

"Some of them will say, 'if it ain't broke don't fix it, '" predicted Huffman, an associate professor of preventive medicine in the division of cardiology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and a cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine. "The number of elderly people is increasing rapidly and it's becoming important to keep people active and out of institution as long as possible not only for their own self but for the sake of the economy", he said.

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