Aspirin late in life? Healthy people may not need it

The report informs consuming Aspirin might also increase the risk of a potential internal bleeding

The report informs consuming Aspirin might also increase the risk of a potential internal bleeding

McNeil added it was important to focus on this cohort because aspirin is used by healthy, older people in the hopes that it will keep them well, with some even taking it without a prescription from their physician.

"The trial was terminated at a median of 4.7 years of follow-up after a determination was made that there would be no benefit with continued aspirin use with regard to the primary end point", the authors noted in a report published online in the New England Journal of Medicine (one of three covering various aspects of the trial).

Aspirin has been touted as preventing heart attacks and strokes in people with vascular conditions such as coronary artery disease.

The study examined more than 19,000 people in the United States and Australia, most of whom were aged older than 70.

Almost one half of the group was given 100 milligrams of aspirin while the others were given a placebo for almost five years.

In addition, those who took aspirin had a slightly higher likelihood of dying over the course of the study (5.9 percent) than those who took the placebo (5.2 percent).

But for older, healthy people, "the risks outweigh the benefits for taking low-dose aspirin", Murray says. As new preventive opportunities arise they will typically require large clinical trials, and the structure of the Australian health system has proven an ideal setting for this type of study.

"But we have not identified results that are strikingly different", McNeil said in an email. The findings would help inform prescribing doctors who have been uncertain about recommending aspirin to healthy patients who do not have a clear medical reason for it. Patients who were black or Hispanic and living in the U.S. were included in the study as they face a higher risk of heart disease or dementia generally.

Dr Gabriel Choi Kin, former president of the Hong Kong Medical Association, said the use of low-dose aspirin for healthy elderly people was controversial.

Their health was re-examined after around five years.

Significant bleeding - a known risk of regular aspirin use - was also measured. The study confirmed that a daily baby aspirin increases the risk for serious, potentially life-threatening bleeding.

In the meantime, experts are warning against healthy people simply popping an aspirin every day and believing it will fix everything that ails them.

They found that the major haemorrhagic events suffered involved gastrointestinal (stomach and intestines) and intracranial (inside the skull) bleeding. Heart disease and stroke accounted for 19 percent of the deaths and major bleeding for 5 percent. "So, this is a welcomed study, but everybody who is now taking aspirin should obviously see their GP before making changes to their regime", he told Sky News.

In fact, daily aspirin use increased the risk of death in healthy adults, mostly from cancer. The latest clinical trial, which was funded in part by the National Institute on Aging, is unique because it looked at a much older population of patients compared to previous studies.

The current guidelines recommend a daily aspirin for adults in their 50s who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a history of smoking.

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