A Daily Dose of Aspirin May Be Dangerous for Healthy Seniors

Daily low-dose aspirin found to have no effect on healthy life span in older people

In the new study, most volunteers fell into that category and aspirin didn't seem to help them.

Millions of healthy people who take aspirin to ward off illness in old age are unlikely to benefit from the drug, a trial has found.

However, all of the experts agreed that if you're now taking aspirin under a doctor's direction you shouldn't stop until you discuss it with them, regardless of your age.

Dr Nespolon said while there have been mixed opinions on whether giving healthy people aspirin is a good idea, this new study "clearly shows people over 70 shouldn't be taking aspirin as simply an aid to their health".

There is still strong evidence that a daily baby aspirin can reduce the risk that many people who have already suffered a heart attack or stroke will suffer another attack.

But the trial found no benefit for healthy people over the age of 70, and the pills increased the risk of potentially fatal internal bleeding. At study enrollment, ASPREE participants could not have dementia or a physical disability and had to be free of medical conditions requiring aspirin use.

Researchers also found the use of low-dose aspirin did not substantially lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy older adults, and instead significantly increased their risk of major haemorrhage (bleeding that can lead to a stroke).

The study of 19,000 elderly people in Australia and the United States looked at whether millions of over 70s around the world who take 100mg low-dose aspirin to preserve good health are deriving any benefit by doing so.

Lead researcher Professor John McNeil, of Monash University, Australia, said the findings show many older people may be taking the medicine "unnecessarily". But the new study, known as ASPREE, looked at the long-standing question of whether a first heart attack, stroke, or case of heart failure could be prevented with small amounts of the blood thinner in aspirin.

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"That's an issue in the elderly when people's blood vessels are a bit more fragile", Professor McNeil said.

It was called the Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial.

Results released Sunday from a major study of low-dose aspirin contain a disappointing answer for older, otherwise healthy people.

He said low-dose aspirin can be recommended to people who have a history of heart attack or stroke.

"After a median of 4.7 years of follow-up, the rate of cardiovascular disease was 10.7 events per 1000 person years in the aspirin group and 11.3 events per 1000 person years in the placebo group". In the final 12 months of the trial, 62.1 percent of the participants in the aspirin group and 64.1 percent of those in the placebo group reported that they were still taking their assigned dosage.

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

"Cancer-related death occurred in 3.1% of the participants in the aspirin group and in 2.3% of those in the placebo group (hazard ratio, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.10 to 1.56)".

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. But the researchers interpreted the data cautiously, because other studies have shown aspirin to have a protective effect against colorectal cancer.

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