An important new study shows that the risks are too great and the benefits, if any, minimal
By Katrina Caruso
People who have had a heart attack or stroke are often prescibed low-dose Aspirin because the drug thins the blood and can help prevent another cardiac event. As a result, a lot of perfectly healthy people also take a pill a day to prevent a heart attack. They shouldn’t. A new study published September 16 in the The New England Journal of Medicine shows that the habit can be risky for people over 70 years old.
Researchers followed more than 19,000 people over 70 living in the United States and Australia for five years. The participants in the study were all in good health and had never had heart problems. Half of the participants were randomly assigned to take a low-dose of aspirin (100 mg) every day over the course of the study (the other half took a placebo).
The study produced three different reports, each of which showed that there were no significant health benefits from the Aspirin—it did not lower participants’ risk for heart trouble. However, some participants experienced major stomach bleeding, believed to have been caused by the Aspirin. There was also an increase in cancer deaths, although whether the Aspirin was the cause is unclear; the data here was inconclusive and more research will be needed.
Experts are recommending that people re-evaluate their Aspirin intake. If you’re otherwise healthy, you shouldn’t be self-medicating; taking an Aspirin a day may do you harm and no good.
If you were prescribed low-dose Aspirin, do not stop taking it. Discuss your prescription with your doctor.