Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

An Aspirin a Day Won't Make Healthy Adults Live Longer, Study Shows

Many healthy older people self-medicate with a daily dose of aspirin Many healthy older people self-medicate with a daily dose of aspirin Credit Alamy
Johnnie Parks | 19 September, 2018, 20:39

In spite of the above results, researchers still say that if you are a healthy, elderly person and you have been taking aspirin daily, you shouldn't necessarily stop.

As the authors themselves point out, the study doesn't "directly address the question of whether healthy older persons who have been using aspirin for primary prevention should continue or discontinue its use".

The study of more than 19,000 healthy people aged over 70 found taking 100 milligrams of aspirin a day didn't prolong their life or significantly reduce the risk of a first heart attack or stroke.

This was informed by the fact that aspirin is known and proven to help people prevent a second heart attack and stroke. Their findings were published Sunday in The New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers at Monash University in Australia recruited almost 20,000 people in that country and the United States, with a median age of 74.

The test subjects, a lot of them from Australia, were older than 70, except for blacks and Hispanics in the United States, who were recruited at age 65 or older because people in those groups have a higher risk of heart disease and cardiovascular problems than whites.

Aspirin users did not have a lower risk of heart disease or live longer than those who took a placebo.

The group taking aspirin had an increased risk of death compared to the placebo group: 5.9 percent of participants taking aspirin and 5.2 percent taking placebo died during the study.

They also attributed the higher mortality in this test group to cancer-related deaths. The group with aspirin, however, did experience more bleeding.

Scientists at Monash University in Australia enrolled 19,114 people aged 65 and older in Australia and the United States, randomly giving them a daily low-dose aspirin or a placebo.

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"These initial findings will help to clarify the role of aspirin in disease prevention for older adults, but much more needs to be learned", Hadley said.

"But we have not identified results that are strikingly different", McNeil said in an email.

Apart from having no particular positive impact, it was seen to increase the chance of developing a hemorrhage and life-threatening bleeding.

It's one of the most well-known tenets of modern medicine: An aspirin a day keeps the doctor away. Do you take aspirin regularly?

For healthy people, the study failed to show an overall benefit to offset the bleeding risk, he said. Instead, it may cause them serious harm. It is important to note that the new findings do not apply to people with a proven indication for aspirin such as stroke, heart attack or other cardiovascular disease.

"So, this is a welcomed study, but everybody who is now taking aspirin should obviously see their GP before making changes to their regime. Major hemorrhage events primarily involved upper gastrointestinal and intracranial bleeding".

However, the cases of major bleeding were 38 per cent more with aspirin. Since the 1960s it has been known that aspirin lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke among those who have had heart disease or stroke before.

But he - and his study co-authors - also stress that anybody already taking aspirin should not quit using it before first consulting with their physician.

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