Trying to avoid heart disease? Daily aspirins may be risky
Elderly people are more at risk of internal bleeding than younger adults

Aspirin has been known to be a primary prevention against heart attacks and strokes. Although doctors advise adults who haven’t experienced such but are still at risk of them to take daily aspirin pill, many are still wary of the risk of rare but potentially lethal internal bleeding it could cause.

A research review suggests this as much, that people taking a daily aspirin to prevent heart attacks and strokes – though they do not have heart disease – may just increase the risk of severe bleeding, particularly in the brain.

Bleeding in the brain

Scientists examined data from 13 clinical trials to see the effects of aspirin against a placebo or non-treatment in over 134,000 adults. The risk of intracranial hemorrhage, or “brain bleeds”, was rare; they found that taking aspirin was associated with two additional cases of “brain bleeding” for every 1,000 people. However, the bleeding risk was still 37% higher for people who took aspirin than those who didn’t.

“Intracranial hemorrhage is a special concern because it is strongly associated with a high risk of death and poorer health over a lifetime,” said study co-author Dr. Meng Lee of Chang Gung University College of Medicine in Taiwan, “These findings suggest caution regarding using low-dose aspirin in individuals without symptomatic cardiovascular disease.”

Be more wary in prevention

The researchers note that the benefit of low-dose aspirin to prevent future cardiac events in people who’ve already had a heart attack or stroke is well established; what is less clear is the value of aspirin for healthier people, for whom bleeding risks may outweigh any benefit.

Aspirin guidelines have already incorporated a need to balance the potential benefits against bleeding risks. For the elderly, who are more at risk of bleeding than younger adults, aspirin may be too much of a recommendation. The suggestion then is that people aged 50-59 take aspirin if they at least a 10% risk of a cardiac event within the next decade.

Story from Reuters.

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