New research from the UK reports that the risks of daily aspirin use are much more severe than originally expected, particularly affecting those 75 and above.
Aspirin is typically prescribed as a blood thinner and helps to prevent blood clots. They are often recommended after a heart attack. Once a person begins taking the drug, they are typically encouraged to continue taking it. The preventative properties of it can help to reduce the risk of a subsequent heart attack by 20%.
Based on a national survey from 2015 published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, approximately 50% of all American adults ages 45-75 take aspirin on a daily basis.
According to researchers from Oxford University, while that may be the case, the UK witnesses 20,000 major bleeds and around 3,000 deaths PER YEAR as a result of daily aspirin use.
The Oxford Vascular Study, published in The Lancet, examined the health experiences of 3,166 patients who had experienced a prior stroke or heart attack and were subsequently taking aspirin. Of that number, 314 patients were taken to hospital for bleeding. The risk of fatal bleeding increased with age.
For patients under the age of 65 who take daily aspirin to prevent another attack, the annual rate of bleeds requiring hospital admission was approximately 1.5%, compared with 3.5% for patients aged 75 to 84, and 5% for those aged 85 or over. As the study was observational, there’s a likelihood of other contributing factors.
“The risk of serious bleeding is much higher in the over-75s,” said Professor Peter Rothwell, who led the study. “In people under 75 the benefits of taking aspirin for secondary prevention after a heart attack or stroke clearly outweigh the relatively small risk of bleeding – these people needn’t worry.”
Another recent study this month reports that further work and research is needed on the benefits of aspirin when taken for heart disease.
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