Monash University in Australia has reported initial results from a large clinical trial (ASPREE) performed to investigate the benefits and risks of low, daily doses of aspirin in healthy people aged over 70 years.
The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and led by the university, is being conducted in a total of 19,000 subjects in the US and Australia.
ASPREE trial showed that 100mg aspirin did not significantly decrease the risk of a first heart attack or stroke. however, it was observed that daily dose of the therapeutic does not extend disability-free life.
Meanwhile, the researchers observed a 3.8% increase in the number of serious bleeding cases among people taking aspirin, compared to 2.8% in the placebo arm.
Monash University Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine department professor John McNeil said: “Despite the fact that aspirin has been around for more than 100 years, we have not known whether healthy older people should take it as a preventive measure to keep them healthy for longer.
“These findings will help inform prescribing doctors who have long been uncertain about whether to recommend aspirin to healthy patients who do not have a clear medical reason for doing so.”
Professor McNeil added that the results do not apply to patients with existing disorders, such as a previous heart attack, angina or stroke. In such cases, aspirin is recommended as a good preventive medication.
In May this year, POINT trial funded by the NIH showed that a combination of aspirin and clopidogrel can reduce risk of a secondary stroke, heart attack or other ischemic event in certain stroke patients.
While previous studies indicated aspirin may prevent cancer over the longer term, ASPREE revealed a slight rise in deaths in this group. The researchers believe this requires additional analysis and follow-up.
The trial is being continued to assess further effects of daily aspirin on health of the participants.