Study Finds Low Dose Aspirin Fails to Prevent Strokes, Increases Bleeding Risks from Falls

Researchers warn against older individuals taking daily low-dose aspirin, unless they already face an increased risk of heart disease or stroke.

Although doctors often recommend that older adults take a daily aspirin to protect against stroke or heart attack, the findings of a new study suggest that the practice may unnecessarily increase the risk of brain bleeds for most healthy individuals.

In a new analysis published last month in the journal JAMA Network Open, researchers concluded that unless older adults have known risk factors for heart disease or stroke, they won’t receive sufficient benefit from taking daily aspirin to justify the risks, since aspirin slows the rate of clotting and may lead to dangerous brain bleeds.

The findings came from a review of the Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE), which is a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial conducted by Australian researchers, involving data on 19,000 older adults in Australia and the United States, who were not diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.

The researchers split the patients into two groups; one group was given a daily dose of 100 mg of aspirin, while the other group was given a placebo. Participants were followed for an average of five years.

According to the findings, taking a daily low dose of aspirin failed to reduce the risk of ischemic stroke. However, those subjects who took aspirin faced a 38% increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke or intracranial bleeding, the researchers determined.

Researchers said aspirin slowed the ability of blood platelets to clot and increased the risk of brain bleeds. They warned the risks could be particularly high for older patients, due to the possibility of falls and head injuries.

This suggests taking a daily low-dose of aspirin could increase the risk of life-threatening brain bleeds when an elderly person falls, the researchers warned..

Aspirin’s “Protective Effect” In Doubt

The findings are just the latest in a string of research in recent years which has cast doubts on the alleged protective benefits of taking daily aspirin.

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A study published last year linked low-dose daily aspirin to an increased risk of serious falls. That study also found taking aspirin daily failed to protect against the risk of bone fractures, when compared to those not taking aspirin.

Another study published earlier this year concluded that older patients faced a 20% increased risk of developing anemia when they took a daily low-dose aspirin to help prevent cardiovascular disease.

In this latest study, the researchers recommended against older adults taking low-dose aspirin to try to prevent heart disease or heart attacks, especially if they do not have an increased risk of heart disease or are prone to falls and brain bleeds.

Daily aspirin should only be recommended for some older patients who have a higher risk of heart disease, the researchers determined. However, they cautioned those who currently face a high risk of heart disease or heart attack, or who have suffered a heart attack or stroke, should continue to take their daily low-dose aspirin if recommended by their doctor.


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