Taking Baby Aspirin Every Day Can Actually Have Serious Health Risks

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But a large, new, global study finds that, even at low doses, long-term use of aspirin may be harmful - without providing benefit - for older people who have not already had a heart attack or stroke. The new study was created to find out whether low-dose aspirin could prolong healthy, independent living in seniors who had not shown signs of heart disease. "But not only did it not decrease risk of disability or death, it did not decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke, and there was an increase in the rate of death".

If you're taking a daily aspirin to stay healthy, new evidence suggests you might want to reconsider.

The participants were followed for around 4.7 years and could also not have dementia or a physical disability and had to be free of medical conditions.

It found that for older people with no history of heart attack, stroke or congestive heart failure taking a daily aspirin might do more harm than good. Hemorrhagic stroke, bleeding in the brain, gastrointestinal hemorrhages or hemorrhages at other sites that required transfusion or hospitalization occurred in 361 people on aspirin and in 265 taking the placebo.

The study also discovered an increase in deaths from cancer, although the researchers think this needs further investigation as it goes against current findings in the field. Half the participants were asked to take 100mg of aspirin each day, while the rest took a placebo pill.

A DAILY aspirin will not lower the risk of death or heart attacks in healthy older people but will increase the risk of internal bleeding, a major Australian-American study has found.

Dr Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Ageing said: "Clinical guidelines note the benefits of aspirin for preventing heart attacks and strokes in persons with vascular conditions such as coronary artery disease".

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Monday, the ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial was the largest and most comprehensive clinical trial conducted in Australia.

A trial of aspirin in the elderly was first called for in the early 1990s.

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

Not only was there little difference between the two groups in terms of disease prevention, but, as the medication is a blood thinner, trial participants taking daily aspirin were more likely to suffer from serious bleeding (3.8 per cent of the group), than the placebo group (2.8 per cent).

For those who had previously survived a cardiovascular event, regular aspirin was beneficial, the study found. "In India, self treatment with aspirin is often seen, and it should be strictly forbidden", said Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis-C-DOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology.

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