Rethinking Daily Aspirin Dosing

Aspirin daily may provide more risk than cardiovascular benefit

(RxWiki News) Think twice before you automatically take your daily aspirin dose in a bid to protect against heart disease. In some patients, taking it daily may be more harmful than beneficial.

Though a recent study found that taking aspirin daily could lower the risk of heart attack and stroke among patients without cardiovascular disease, the risk of serious bleeding events associated with taking the over-the-counter pain reliever daily outweighed the benefits.

"Talk to your doctor about whether aspirin could be beneficial."

Dr. Sreenivasa Seshasai of the Cardiovascular Sciences Research Center at St. George’s, University of London, and the lead study researcher, and his team of investigators found that while daily aspirin may benefit some patients, it's not for everyone because in many patients the risk of bleeding cancels out the added heart protection.

During the review study, researchers examined nine randomized placebo-controlled trials, which included more than 100,000 participants taking either aspirin or a placebo daily. The patients had not previously had a heart attack or stroke.

They found that aspirin treatment reduced the risk of any type of cardiovascular disease by 10 percent, and dropped the chance of a non-fatal heart attack by 20 percent. Investigators also concluded that daily aspirin increased the risk of bleeding events.

Though the aspirin provided a benefit to many patients, researchers concluded that the increased risk of bleeding events negated the benefit.

Patients who took aspirin were 30 percent more likely to suffer serious gastrointestinal bleeding events, which is a known side effect of aspirin therapy.

Though aspirin did lower the risk of a non-fatal heart attack, for each one prevented about two serious bleeding events were reported.

That doesn't mean that daily aspirin can't benefit patients, only that the risks and benefits should be considered first. Doctors may find that the benefit would outweigh the risks in patients with a history of heart disease, for example.

The study was recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Review Date: 
January 17, 2012