Daily aspirin use in older adults can spark adverse outcomes

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"Many people, including me, do not believe that aspirin offers meaningful benefits in primary prevention and carries substantial bleeding risks".

Those that took aspirin were also at 'significantly ' increased risk of bleeding, primarily in the gastrointestinal tract and brain, it was revealed.

The clinical trial, which ran from 2010 to 2014 and included 19,114 individuals 70 years and older from the US and Australia, found that a low daily dose of aspirin only marginally decreased a patient's risk of cardiovascular disease while significantly increasing the patient's risk of hemorrhage.

The study involved 19,114 generally healthy volunteers (no history of cardiovascular disease, dementia or physical disability) living in Australia and the United States.

Experts last night urged people to take medical advice from their before deciding whether or not to use aspirin regularly. They were then followed 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)".

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.

The randomised double-blind trial, called ASPREE, was conducted by Monash University in Australia and the Berman Centre for Outcomes and Clinical Research in the United States.

McNeil added that a small increase in deaths observed in the aspirin group, primarily from cancer, required further investigation as researchers can not rule out that it may be a chance finding.

The researchers found an increase in the number of cases of serious internal bleeding among the aspirin takers (3.8%) compared to the placebo group (2.8%).

At the end of the trial, 90.3 percent of the aspirin-treated patients were still alive, compared to 90.5 percent of those who received placebos.

"Despite the fact that aspirin has been around for more than 100 years, we have not known whether healthy older people should take it as a preventive measure to keep them healthy for longer", said John McNeil, who led the trial at Monash University in Melbourne. But "for a long time there's been a need to establish appropriate criteria for when healthy people - elderly people - need aspirin". But this small difference could be due to chance, researchers said.

While US Preventive Services Task Force guidelines on aspirin use, among other worldwide guidelines, recommend a daily dose to prevent cardiovascular disease between the age of 50 and 69, a lack of available research meant this recommendation was not extended to people older than 70.

Over a four-year span starting in 2010, the trial enrolled more than 19,000 people in Australia and the US who were 70 and older, or 65 for African-American and Hispanic participants because their risks of dementia or cardiovascular disease are higher.

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

"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.