For people trying to prevent a second heart attack or stroke, evidence in support of baby aspirin therapy remains strong. "If you look at the new findings, at best it's neutral and at worst it increases the bleeding risk".
Millions of healthy older people with no history of heart attack or stroke now take aspirin in the hope it will reduce their risk and prolong good health. But when researchers looked at more than 19,000 people in Australia and the United States over almost five years, they found it wasn't so.
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. The researchers then followed the study's participants for a median of 4.7 years.
"The rate of major hemorrhage was 8.6 events per 1000 person-years and 6.2 events per 1000 person-years, respectively (hazard ratio, 1.38; 95% CI, 1.18 to 1.62; P 0.001)".
The researchers did not state whether healthy older people who have been taking aspirin should stop.
A team of researchers from Monash University in Melbourne published their findings from a seven-year study in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, on Sunday. Hemorrhagic stroke, bleeding in the brain, gastrointestinal bleeding and bleeding in other sites that required transfusion or hospitalization occurred in 361, or 3.8 percent, of participant in the aspirin-treated group and 265, or 2.7 percent, of those in the placebo group.More news: Permanent tax cuts sought by House GOP as elections loom
Dr Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Ageing (NIA) in the United States, said: 'Clinical guidelines note the benefits of aspirin for preventing heart attacks and strokes in persons with vascular conditions such as coronary artery disease.
At the end of the study, the rate of cardiovascular disease between the two groups of participants was not much different: 9,525 of those taking the aspirin had developed cardiovascular disease compared to 9,589 of those taking the placebo. The rates of coronary heart disease, heart attacks and strokes were also similar.
The results showed the aspirin had no effect on whether people would suffer from dementia or a disability.
"But we have not identified results that are strikingly different", McNeil said in an email.
Research into almost 20,000 older people found those who were generally healthy derived no protective benefit from the blood-thinning pill - but it increased their risk of unsafe bleeds. "Analysis of all the cancer-related data from the trial is underway and until we have additional data, these findings should be interpreted with caution".
No individual component of the primary endpoint made a case for the benefit of aspirin, which failed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as well (10.7 versus 11.3 events per 1,000 person-years, HR 0.95, 95% CI 0.83-1.08). The trial will result in a rethinking of global guidelines relating to the use of aspirin to prevent common conditions associated with ageing, he says.