Published: Tue, September 18, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

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

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

Moreover, the major risks of bleeding vastly outweigh the benefits to heart owing to aspirin, as reported in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented Sunday at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Paris.

"We found there was no discernible benefit of aspirin on prolonging independent, healthy life for the elderly", Dr. Anne Murray, one of the authors of the study and an epidemiologist and geriatrician at Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis, told National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Rob Stein. "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".

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.

Older adults should follow the advice from their own physicians about daily aspirin use, Hadley said.

ASPREE was a 19,114-person study of low-dose aspirin conducted in Australia and the U.S.

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For people trying to prevent a second heart attack or stroke, evidence in support of baby aspirin therapy remains strong.

The minimum age was 70; 65 in the United States for African-American and Hispanic individuals due to their higher risk for dementia and cardiovascular disease. And 5.9% of those taking aspirin died during the study, compared to 5.2% of the placebo-takers. Rates of people who suffered from disability and dementia were almost the same.

They found that the rates for major cardiovascular events, which including coronary heart disease, nonfatal heart attacks, and fatal and nonfatal ischemic stroke, were similar in both groups.

The big difference between the groups was in the rate of internal bleeding. The group with aspirin, however, did experience more bleeding. Previous studies found aspirin may be protective against certain kinds of cancer.

Professor John McNeil, head of Monash University's Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine, said the research sought to answer a question which has been "unresolved for a number of years". "It is possible pre-existing cancers may have interacted with the aspirin".

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The "tentative finding" required further investigation as researchers in other studies suggest aspirin may prevent cancer, he said.

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

"Essentially, we could not identify any subgroup in whom aspirin was beneficial in preserving good health", Dr. McNeil said. Patients now get statins to lower cholesterol and anti-hypertensive medications to lower blood pressure.

After about five years of treatment, the rate of heart disease was not significantly lower in the 9,525 volunteers taking 100mg of aspirin daily than in the 9,589 who took placebo tablets.

Hadley noted only 11 percent of participants had regularly taken low-dose aspirin before entering the study.

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People are prescribed aspirin after a heart attack or stroke because the drug thins the blood and reduces the chances of a repeat attack.

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