Low-dose aspirin doesn't extend healthy living in older people

Low-dose aspirin doesn't extend healthy living in older people

Low-dose aspirin doesn't extend healthy living in older people

"If you look at the new findings, at best it's neutral and at worst it increases the bleeding risk".

While healthy individuals may not need to take up a daily dose, there is a plethora of evidence showing an aspirin regimen can help people who have had a heart attack or stroke from having another one.

The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that people between the ages of 50 and 59 take low doses of aspirin to prevent cardiovascular problems and colorectal cancer if they have a 10 percent or greater chance of events such as heart attacks and strokes and do not have conditions that increase their chances of bleeding.

Among the people randomly assigned to take aspirin, 90.3 per cent remained alive at the end of the treatment without persistent physical disability or dementia, compared with 90.5 per cent of those taking a placebo.

The trial followed 19,114 seniors - 2,411 from the USA and 16,703 Australians - for an average of 4.7 years.

The researchers noted that aspirin was associated with a significantly increased risk of bleeding, primarily in the gastrointestinal tract and brain.

Using the help of Global Positioning System, researchers recruited 16,703 older people in Australia and 2411 in the United States, with approximately 9500 people in both the aspirin and the placebo group.

Details of the trial were published in three papers in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers said the results don't apply to people prescribed low-dose aspirin after suffering a stroke, heart attack or other form of cardiovascular disease.

Aspirin has always been used as a preventative measure to help reduce the risk of blood clots in patients who have suffered a heart attack or stroke.

Doctors unexpectedly also found that the group taking aspirin died at a slightly higher rate than the placebo group, with most of those deaths attributed to cancer.

Half of the study participants received 100 milligrams of aspirin a day; the other half received a placebo.

In the ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly trial, 16,703 people in Australia and 2,411 in the United States were enrolled and followed up for an average of 4.7 years.

"But we have not identified results that are strikingly different", McNeil said in an email. Heart disease and stroke accounted for 19 percent of the deaths and major bleeding for 5 percent.

The test subjects, majority 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.

'Analysis of all the cancer-related data from the trial is under way and until we have additional data, these findings should be interpreted with caution'.

For those who had previously survived a cardiovascular event, regular aspirin was beneficial, the study found.

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".

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