Taking a daily aspirin may help prevent heart attacks among individuals with diabetes, but the findings of a new study suggest that it may also significantly increases their risk for serious bleeding problems.
In a report published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from the U.K. warn that the bleeding risks associated with taking daily aspirin outweigh any potential benefit for those with diabetes.
People who have diabetes face a higher risk of heart problems and stroke from blood clots. However, past studies have shown aspirin helps reduce the risk of heart attack in some people. Researchers wanted to see if there was benefit of daily aspirin among patients with diabetes.
Researchers of the ASCEND trial studied nearly 15,500 patients with diabetes over the age of 40 with no prior cardiovascular disease. They were randomly assigned to receive a daily dose of 100 mg of aspirin or a matching daily placebo.
Patients with diabetes saw vascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes, reduced by 12%. However, major bleeding increased by nearly 30%. Most of the bleeding involved gastrointestinal bleeding or extra cranial bleeding.
“In conclusion, the use of low-dose aspirin led to a lower risk of serious vascular events than placebo among persons with diabetes who did not have evident cardiovascular disease at trial entry,” the researchers determined. “However, the absolute lower rates of serious vascular events were of similar magnitude to the absolute higher rates of major bleeding, even among participants who had a high vascular risk.”
Previous studies have linked other painkillers, particularly nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), to a similar risk. Another study published in 2017 linked naproxen-based over-the-counter painkillers, such as Aleve and Midol, to increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.
About one in two American adults take aspirin on a regular basis, many to prevent heart attack or stroke, often on their doctors’ recommendations.
Roughly 422 million people around the world have diabetes, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States, about 30 million people, or 9% of the U.S. population, had diabetes in 2015, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention