‘Wonder drug’ aspirin’s harms outweighs its benefits in healthy elderly

Leslie Hanson
September 18, 2018

A landmark US-Australian study has found taking aspirin daily does not improve the lifespan of people over 70, with researchers warning the costs may outweigh the benefits for healthy elderly people taking the medication to stave off various conditions.

"These findings will help inform prescribing doctors who have always been uncertain about whether to recommend aspirin to healthy patients who do not have a clear medical reason for doing so", John McNeil, head of the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at Monash University in Australia, said in a statement. The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends "initiating low-dose aspirin use for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer in adults aged 50 to 59 years who have a 10% or greater" risk of cardiovascular disease.

As a result of the third study, researchers concluded that there was a higher cause of death in the aspirin test group, in those who were believed to be healthy, than in the placebo test group.

Taking aspirin daily does not reduce the heart attack or stroke and has no benefit in prolonging life free of disability, a study has found.

But the new global study followed 19,114 seniors for an average of 4.7 years.

"Essentially, we could not identify any subgroup in whom aspirin was beneficial in preserving good health", Dr. McNeil said. The patients who took aspirin didn't report differences in dementia or physical disability compared to the control group.

In the second study, researchers were able to confirm these results, noting "the risk of major hemorrhage was significantly higher with aspirin than with a placebo".

The participants were randomly assigned to receive either 100 milligrams per day of aspirin or a placebo pill. And while it "does not do any good" in the defined group of people, he says, "it may increase the risk of bleeding" (bleeding is a known side effect of aspirin and is more common in older people).


But internal bleeding (hemorrhagic stroke, bleeding in the brain, gastrointestinal bleeding, and other bleeding) was found in 3.8% of patients taking aspirin versus 2.7% of those taking a placebo.

The minimum age was 70; 65 in the United States for African-American and Hispanic individuals due to their higher risk for dementia and cardiovascular disease.

But the odds of a major bleeding episode were 38 per cent higher with aspirin.

The small increase in deaths, mostly from cancer, may be coincidental and needs more study, the authors said.

Aspirin has been widely used in healthy older adults to protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The aspirin group were also at a slightly increased risk of death.

First developed in 1897, aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. There is substantial evidence that supports the daily use of aspirin for secondary prevention of heart disease, which means patients are prescribed the drug after they've already experienced a heart attack or stroke.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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