Does Aspirin Actually Help Heart Disease? More Study Needed, Say Researchers

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An easy fix for a fever or headache, and regularly prescribed as a blood thinner, aspirin is bought over the counter by millions of Americans each year. It is often taken as a way to prevent blood clots which reduces the risk of stroke. Now research published in Clinical Cardiology journal asks the question: can aspirin help heart disease? 

After analysing the data from the medical histories of 33,000 patients with atherosclerosis  -narrowed arteries caused by a build-up of fatty deposits known as plaque – a team at the University of Florida found that aspirin had only a marginal benefit for those who had previously experienced a cardiovascular event. The 21,000 patients in the group who took aspirin following a heart attack or stroke were found to be at less risk of a subsequent heart attack or stroke.

For those patients in the sample who had never suffered a heart attack or stroke, the results showed aspirin to be of no apparent benefit.

Despite these findings, the actual results are only observational and more research is required before aspirin is re-evaluated. Anthony Bavry, M.D., an associate professor in the UF College of Medicine’s department of medicine and a cardiologist at the Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Gainesville, says that additional clinical studies are needed and that aspirin still carries a vital role in combating acute heart problems.

“Aspirin therapy is widely used and embraced by cardiologists and general practitioners around the world. This takes a bit of the luster off the use of aspirin,” Bavry said.

“The cardiology community needs to appreciate that aspirin deserves ongoing study. There are many individuals who may not be deriving a benefit from aspirin. If we can identify those patients and spare them from aspirin, we’re doing a good thing,” he said.

That being said, anyone who currently takes aspirin should not give up its therapies unless recommended by their GP.

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