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New doubts over aspirin and cardiovascular disease prevention

Wednesday January 23rd, 2019

The risks from taking aspirin to prevent cardiovascular incidents may outweight the benefits for healthy patients, according to a new systematic review.

Researchers at King’s College, London, found that treating 250 patients for five years would prevent one cardiovascular incident.

But the rate of major bleeds was slightly higher – at one for every 200 patients.

Overall taking aspirin was linked with an 11% reduced rate of cardiovascular events.

They reported their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association last night.

The analysis involved trials with more than 1,000 patients, with no known history of cardiovascular disease.

Researcher Dr Sean Zheng said: "This study demonstrates that there is insufficient evidence to recommend routine aspirin use in the prevention of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths in people without cardiovascular disease.

"There has been more uncertainty surrounding what should be done in patients who are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and in patients with diabetes. This study shows that while cardiovascular events may be reduced in these patients, these benefits are matched by an increased risk of major bleeding events.”

The Royal College of GPs said concerned patients should discuss the matter with their GP.

Chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: “Aspirin can be an inexpensive and effective drug for reducing risks of recurrence in patients who have suffered a stroke or heart attack, but we have known for many years that there are risks and side effects involved with its long-term use, and this study highlights the importance of managing its use carefully and effectively.

“It is important that this research is considered as clinical guidelines are updated and developed, in the best interests of our patients.

“Patients who regularly take aspirin – either as prescribed by their doctor or who have self-medicated – should not panic as a result of this research.”

Journal of the American Medical Association 22 January 2019

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2721178

Tags: Heart Health | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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