Many people take a daily aspirin to reduce their risk of a cardiovascular-related condition. A recent study further explored the benefits and risks of taking a daily low-dose aspirin in older adults without prior cardiovascular events, dementia, or physical disability in people who were free of medical conditions requiring daily aspirin use.
The study revealed that the use of a daily low-dose aspirin did not prolong healthy aging in those without dementia or persistent physical disability. Additional research is required to determine if a daily low-dose of aspirin could lower the risk of death from cancer and heart disease.
Dr. Raj C. Shah explained, “The results will have a significant impact on guidelines about aspirin use for prevention and in daily clinical conversations between clinicians and their older, healthy patients regarding whether aspirin should or should not be used for achieving disability-free longevity.”
The study enrolled 19,114 older adults from both the US and Australia.
National Institute on Aging director Dr. Richard J. Hodes added, “Clinical guidelines note the benefits of aspirin for preventing heart attacks and strokes in persons with vascular conditions such as coronary artery disease. The concern has been uncertainty about whether aspirin is beneficial for otherwise healthy older people without those conditions. 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.”
Of the aspirin-taking group, 90.3 percent remained alive at the end of the study without persistent physical disability or dementia compared to 90.5 of the placebo group. Rates of physical disability and dementia were near identical among both groups.
Additional similarities between the two groups were rates of cardiovascular-related events, with 448 people in the aspirin group and 474 in the placebo group. But the aspirin group had a higher risk of bleeding, which is a known side effect of aspirin use.
Dr. Leslie Ford of the National Cancer Institute Division of Cancer Prevention explained, “The increase in cancer deaths in study participants in the aspirin group was surprising, given prior studies suggesting aspirin use improved cancer outcomes. Analysis of all the cancer-related data from the trial is underway and until we have additional data, these findings should be interpreted with caution.”
Regarding taking a daily aspirin, the researchers advise that patients always work with the advice of their healthcare practitioner to determine whether a daily aspirin is beneficial. Additional research is required to determine whether older adults who take a daily low-dose aspirin should discontinue use.
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