Intake Of Low Dose Of Aspirin Results In Risks Exceeding Benefits

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The researchers are not recommending that if you are healthy and taking daily aspirin you should necessarily stop.

"The concern has been uncertainty about whether aspirin is beneficial for otherwise healthy older people".

It may ultimately turn out that there are more benefits than risks in certain populations, said the study's lead author, John McNeil, a professor in the department of epidemiology and preventive medicine in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University in Melbourne.

The study was of 19,114 people in the USA and Australia in good health, with no history of heart problems and over the age of 70.

No, according to a study of more than 19,000 people, including whites 70 and older, and blacks and Hispanics 65 and older.

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An aspirin a day is not likely to reduce the risk of a first heart attack or stroke among healthy elderly people, a new study shows.

But the rate of major bleeding with daily aspirin use was 3.8 per cent, versus 2.8 per cent with placebo.

"The use of low-dose aspirin resulted in a significantly higher risk of major hemorrhage and did not result in a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease than placebo", the researchers conclude in one of the papers.

Of those taking the medicine, 5.9% died during the study compared to 5.2% of the placebo group.

The study found the higher death rate in the aspirin-treated group was due primarily to a higher rate of cancer deaths.

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

The trial was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging and the National Cancer Institute at the NIH; the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia; Monash University; and the Victorian Cancer Agency. The difference was attributed nearly entirely to cancer, a leading killer of older people, and not internal bleeding. They took low-dose aspirin - 100 milligrams - or a placebo every day for a median of 4.7 years. Caution was advised for this particular finding since the follow-up period (five years) may have limited the ability to observe benefits such as the reduced risk of colorectal cancer. In addition, most did not take aspirin regularly before entering the study.

"There was more bleeding, particularly from the stomach and upper gastrointestinal tract", Prof McNeil told AAP. It is important to note that the new findings do not apply to people with a proven indication for aspirin such as stroke, heart attack or other cardiovascular disease. They remind patients to consult their GP before changing their aspirin regime.

But he - and his study co-authors - also stress that anybody already taking aspirin should not quit using it before first consulting with their physician. The study confirmed that a daily baby aspirin increases the risk for serious, potentially life-threatening bleeding.

Dr. Margolis said they've only just begun to scratch the surface of what they could learn about the long term effects of aspirin on people over the age of 70.

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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. "Aspirin is a double-edged sword; it is absolutely essential drug and a lifesaver in patients with established heart disease (or arterial blockages) and many patients with diabetes where risk is high".

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