Scientists warn against routinely using aspirin to prevent heart attacks, strokes

May 29th, 2009 - 1:00 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 29 (ANI): British scientists at the University of Oxford say that low-dose aspirin should not routinely be used to prevent heart attacks and strokes because the risk of harm largely cancelled out the benefits of taking the drug.

Study leader Professor Colin Baigent from the Clinical Trial Service Unit looked at heart attacks and strokes and major bleeds-a potential side effect of aspirin-in six primary prevention trials, involving 95,000 people at low to average risk cardiovascular disease, and 16 trials involving 17,000 people at high risk-because they had already had a heart attack or stroke.

The research team observed that the use of aspirin in the lower-risk group was found to reduce non-fatal heart attacks by around a fifth, with no difference in the risk of stroke or deaths from vascular causes.

The researchers even found aspirin use to increased the risk of internal bleeding by around a third.

They, however, conceded that among in those patients who had already had a heart attack or stroke and were at risk of having another, the benefits clearly outweighed the chance of adverse events.

Baigent said tjat drug safety was vital when making recommendations that affected tens of millions of healthy people.

“We don’t have good evidence that, for healthy people, the benefits of long-term aspirin exceed the risks by an appropriate margin,” he said.

“I think the guideline groups will find it useful to have the data analysed in that way,” he added.

Ellen Mason, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation said: “It is better for doctors to weigh up the benefit and risk of prescribing aspirin on an individual basis, rather than develop a blanket guideline suggesting everyone at risk of heart disease is routinely given aspirin.” (ANI)

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