Among the people assigned to take aspirin, 90.3 percent remained alive at the end of the treatment without persistent physical disability or dementia. Heart disease and stroke accounted for 19 percent of the deaths and major bleeding for 5 percent.
Regardless, the findings raise serious questions as to whether otherwise healthy older people should routinely take low-dose aspirin.
But researchers found in a study of 19,114 people conducted in the United States and Australia that the risk of dying from a range of causes, including cancer and heart disease, varied.
Hemorrhagic stroke, bleeding in the brain, gastrointestinal bleeding, or bleeding at other sites that required transfusion or hospitalization occurred in 3.8 percent of people on aspirin versus 2.7 percent of people on placebo. People in the study were followed for an average of 4.7 years.
The clinical trial's results suggest that "if seniors don't have a valid medical need for taking aspirin, you are unlikely to benefit from it and there are some risks", concluded lead researcher John McNeil, head of epidemiology and preventive health at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.
"We found there was no discernible benefit of aspirin on prolonging independent, healthy life for the elderly", says Anne Murray, a geriatrician and epidemiologist at Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis, who helped lead the study.
An aspirin a day is not likely to reduce the risk of a first heart attack or stroke among healthy elderly people, a new study shows. And the findings do not apply to black or Hispanic people younger than 65 or others younger than 70.
Taken together, the three studies acknowledge that millions of people around the world are on a daily low-dose aspirin regimen, aimed at preventing heart attack and stroke. Blood clots can form when an artery is narrowed by cholesterol. Over age 60 the task force is less prescriptive.
The study was of 19,114 people in the United States and Australia in good health, with no history of heart problems and over the age of 70.
However the authors said the small increase in deaths, primarily from cancer, requires further investigation and may be coincidental. For cardiovascular disease, the rate was 10.7 events per 1000 person-years in the aspirin group and 11.3 events per 1000 person-years in the placebo group - also considered no difference. In fact, the group taking aspirin had an slightly elevated risk of death compared to the placebo group (5.9% vs 5.3%). "Aspirin is a double-edged sword; it is absolutely essential drug and a lifesaver in patients with established heart disease (or arterial blockages) and many patients with diabetes where risk is high". However, the last thing doctors want you to do is to stop taking your medication. Email By clicking "Submit", I consent to receiving the above communication from Postmedia Network Inc.
Then it's time to go and sit down with your doctor and reevaluate aspirin and maybe all of your medications and as yourself, "What am I taking that's right for me?"