Published: Thu, September 20, 2018
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Is Daily Low-Dose Aspirin Really Worth It for Seniors?

Is Daily Low-Dose Aspirin Really Worth It for Seniors?

Last Updated: September 16, 2018.

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.

When they were followed up after a period of five years, the research team found the aspirin group did not show any overall reduction in their risk of heart attack or stroke compared to their counterparts.

Researchers had hoped that aspirin's specific effects might help folks ease gracefully into their old age.

But a major new clinical trial has concluded that daily aspirin does not prolong disability-free survival in the elderly.

"We were so hoping that such an low-cost and accessible medication might be effective in prolonging healthy independent life", Murray said.

Several years ago, many physicians floated the idea of using a regimen of low-dose daily aspirin to prevent cardiovascular diseases in the elderly.

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

Doctors in India say the findings have come as an eye opener for Indian population where self prescription is common. "It's an important issue because so many older people in the United States take aspirin, and there's not clear evidence up until now whether that's indicated".

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"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". Rates of people who suffered from disability and dementia were almost the same.

In the aspirin group, 448 people experienced cardiovascular events, compared with 474 people in the placebo group.

"Aspirin is the most widely used of all preventive drugs and an answer to this question is long overdue - ASPREE has provided this answer".

"[The elderly population] is where the taking of aspirin is most likely to have its risks", McNeil explained. Instead, it actually increased participants' risk of "significant bleeding in the digestive tract, brain, or other sites that required transfusions or admission to the hospital", the Times reported. "The intracranial bleeding risk is obviously a bad complication".

"The take-home message of such a complex, large, placebo-controlled study is that healthy older people contemplating how best to preserve their health will be unlikely to benefit from aspirin", said John McNeil, a professor at the Monash University in Australia.

"The bottom line is aspirin if it's taken as its supposed to be taken is beneficial", said Dr. Abe DeAnda, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery UTMB Galveston.

"Continuing follow-up of the ASPREE participants is crucial, particularly since longer term effects on risks for outcomes such as cancer and dementia may differ from those during the study to date", said Evan Hadley, M.D., director of NIA's Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology. "It would be unwise to stop without speaking to their doctor about it".

Three reports in the New England Journal of Medicine showed the pills did not reduce their risk of heart problems or have any other benefits.

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