‘Aspirin-a-day risky in old age’ - major study

Ebony Scott
September 20, 2018

The study was coordinated at 34 sites in the USA and 16 in Australia.

The study found an aspirin-a-day did not prolong life free of disability, or significantly reduce the risk of a first heart attack or stroke among participants - with little difference between the placebo and aspirin groups.

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

Instead, researchers found that aspirin use was associated with an increased risk of bleeding in the digestive tract and the brain, with 3.8 per cent of people on the drug suffering from those conditions, compared to 2.7 per cent in the placebo group.

Until now, the balance between risks and benefits in older individuals was unclear, said Dr. McNeil.

Though aspirin has been around for more than 100 years, it was unclear whether healthy older people should take it as a preventive to keep them healthy for longer, he says, adding "aspirin is the most widely used of all preventive drugs and an answer to this question is long overdue". "But for the people who decide to take aspirin just off their own bat, this research has cast some doubt over whether it is a good idea".

He puts his good health down to being active and in a position to make a contribution, like taking part in clinical trials.

He said that the question of whether or not to prescribe aspirin to the healthy elderly is faced regularly by a typical GP.

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McNeil and colleagues noted that adherence to the assigned treatment was 62.1% and 64.1% among aspirin and placebo recipients, respectively, during the final year of trial participation. But it had been unclear whether healthy people older than 70 would derive the same benefit.

Doctors in India say the findings have come as an eye opener for Indian population where self prescription is common. -Australian study of more than 19,000 volunteers. But he said it was important to note the the focus of the current study was on benefits of aspirin as a primary prevention.

First developed in 1897, aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. They were followed for an average of close to five years.

"For healthy people, 70 and older, who don't have a reason to be on aspirin, such as a previous heart attack or stroke, there was no discernible benefit", Murray told NBC News.

The study involved over 19,000 people, of which 9,525 received aspirin and 9,589 recruited in placebo group.

Participants took either aspirin or a placebo daily over a four-and-a-half year period. Further research that may identify which groups would benefit from regular aspirin use is underway, McNeil said. All of the participants were considered healthy at time of enrollment, with none known to suffer from heart disease, dementia or persistent physical disability.

MURRAY: For a long time, there's been a need to establish appropriate criteria for when healthy people, elderly people, need aspirin.

"The increase in cancer deaths in study participants in the aspirin group was surprising, given prior studies suggesting aspirin use improved cancer outcomes", said Leslie Ford, associate director for clinical research from the National Cancer Institute.

Other reports by GizPress

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