Aspirin doesnt reduce heart attack risk: Australian study

Aspirin doesnt reduce heart attack risk: Australian study

The researchers are not recommending that if you are healthy and taking daily aspirin you should necessarily stop.

So yes, don't pop aspirin if you are healthy.

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.

But based on the findings, Dr. Evan Hadley of the National Institute on Aging, which helped fund the study, says any elderly people taking aspirin or thinking about it should think twice.

Lead researcher Professor John McNeil, of Monash University, Australia, said the study proves many older people may be taking the medicine "unnecessarily".

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

Results from the trial were published 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.

However, most research on the benefits of aspirin is performed on people in middle age and there is mounting evidence the dangers increase as we get older.

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.

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The aspirin not only failed to have any beneficial effect on lifespan but also carried a "higher risk of major hemorrhage" in the older adults, the authors stated.

As a result of the third study, researchers concluded that there was a higher cause of death in the aspirin test group, in those who were believed to be healthy, than in the placebo test group. These extra cancer deaths explained the slightly higher mortality rate seen overall in the aspirin group. The new study was created to find out whether low-dose aspirin could prolong healthy, independent living in seniors who had not shown signs of heart disease.

The primary study looked to answer whether or not 100 milligrams of aspirin a day really could help prevent everything from heart attacks to cancer. Also, since only 11 percent of participants had regularly taken low-dose aspirin prior to entering the study, the implications of ASPREE's findings need further investigation to determine whether healthy older people who have been regularly using aspirin for disease prevention should continue or discontinue use.

Over 19,000 participants took part in the study, which was jointly conducted by Monash University and the US Berman Centre for Outcomes and Clinical Research.

According to McNeil, these results should make those who are taking aspirin preventatively of their own accord think twice, noting that "many people take [aspirin] without medical advice".

Based on their medical history, all of the participants were expected to live for at least another five years at the time they were enrolled in the study.

Professor McNeil said aspirin remains a relatively safe medication but more research was needed to investigate the longer-term benefits and risks of its daily use.

Instead, it focused on answering the question of whether the drug reduced the risk of healthy seniors suffering their first heart attack or stroke, or losing their good health.

Another clinical trial has added more evidence against the fairly common practice of prescribing aspirin to healthy older adults in order to prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease.

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