Daily Aspirin Increases Risk of Senior Falls Requiring Hospital Care: Study

Researchers also found aspirin did not protect against the risk of bone fractures, and caused elderly individuals to experience more falls

While it is commonly recommended that elderly patients take a low dose of aspirin on a daily basis, the findings of new research suggests the practice may increase the risk of suffering a serious fall, and fails to reduce the risk of fractures compared to individuals who do not take the daily aspirin.

In a study published this week in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, Australian researchers conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial focusing on older adult patients in 16 major sites across southeastern Australia.

The research was part of the Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE-FRACTURE) study as part of the Australian component of the trial from 2010 to 2014, involving a total of 16,703 healthy community volunteers over the age of 70 who were recruited.

Participants were separated into two groups. The intervention group received a daily dose of oral 100 mg enteric-coated low-dose aspirin. The control group received a daily placebo, identical in enteric-coated tablets. Patients were followed for nearly five years.

According to the findings, nearly 1,700 subjects suffered serious falls, and more than 2,800 participants suffered fractures during the study. However, participants who took the daily low-dose aspirin had a 10% increased risk of suffering a fall that required hospitalization.

The study noted there was no difference in the fracture risks between the aspirin intervention group and the control group, leading researchers to conclude that aspirin provided no protection from bone fractures.

Low-Dose Aspirin Use Among Elderly Patients

Low-dose aspirin is often prescribed to elderly patients to help prevent the risk of cardiovascular side effects and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. It is also prescribed because some research has suggested it may help strengthen bones and slow cognitive decline.

Since older people face an increased risk of falls and bone fractures, which can have serious long-lasting complications and increases a person’s risk of early death, many doctors are eager to prescribe it to patients to help ward off negative effects.

However, the new data indicates taking daily low-dose aspirin may not have the protective benefit for fracture risk many doctors believe it does. Furthermore, it may have negative effects and increase the risk an older patient may suffer a fall, which in turn increases their risk of suffering fractures and needing hospital care.

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Roughly half of people over the age of 80 fall at least once a year. Understanding and attempting to mitigate the risk of fall is crucial. Researchers say the risk of fall from aspirin may be from the anticoagulant effect of the medication, but more research is needed to determine the full risk.

“In this sub-study of a randomized clinical trial, the failure of low-dose aspirin to reduce the risk of fractures while increasing the risk of serious falls adds to evidence that this agent provides little favorable benefit,” wrote Anna L. Barker, PhD and lead author of the study.


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