Think twice before starting to take daily aspirin

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"This study shows why it is so important to conduct this type of research, so that we can gain a fuller picture of aspirin's benefits and risks among healthy older persons", Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute of Ageing, which helped fund the trial, said in a statement.

After about five years of treatment, the rate of heart disease was not significantly lower in the 9,525 volunteers taking 100mg of aspirin daily than in the 9,589 who took placebo tablets.

When the participants were followed up almost five years later, doctors found that compared with the placebo, a daily aspirin had not reduced the risk of heart attack or stroke, or prolonged the number of years people lived without dementia or physical disabilities.

The results of the Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial have been published in three papers in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The trial followed 19,114 seniors - 2,411 from the US and 16,703 Australians - for an average of 4.7 years. Prescribing aspirin to healthy people to prevent the onset of heart disease is controversial although it happens.

Of those taking the medicine, 5.9% died during the study compared to 5.2% of the placebo group.

"Aspirin is the most widely used of all preventative drugs and an answer to this question is long overdue". "There is no evidence that people from Asia (or India) reacted any differently to aspirin", he said.

Roughly half of participants were given 100 mg of low-dose aspirin, while the rest were given a placebo. Additionally, higher death rates were reported among those taking aspirin daily although the researchers are skeptical about how much weight to put on the finding since it's an unexpected outcome compared to similar studies.

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Older adults should follow the advice from their own physicians about daily aspirin use, Hadley said.

There are proven benefits of the drug for people after a heart attack or stroke.

The study found it could actually increase the risk of internal bleeding. Patients who were black or Hispanic and living in the USA - two groups that face a higher risk of heart disease or dementia - could be age 65 or older.

Researchers, however, recognised and stressed the fact that according to previous research, those who have a history of heart attacks or strokes do benefit from the daily aspirin use, and that it outweighs the possible risks. Nor did it prolong life or substantially reduce the incidence of heart attack or stroke-with little difference between the placebo and aspirin groups.

"The concern has been uncertainty about whether aspirin is beneficial for otherwise healthy older people without those conditions".

The study also discovered an increase in deaths from cancer, although the researchers think this needs further investigation as it goes against current findings in the field.

While there were 21.5 cases of death, dementia or disability per 1,000 patients each year in the aspirin group, the rate was 21.2 with placebo.

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