Aged over 70 and healthy? A daily aspirin won't help

But a large, new, worldwide study finds that, even at low doses, long-term use of aspirin may be harmful - without providing benefit - for older people who have not already had a heart attack or stroke. At worst, it may raise their risk of internal bleeding and early death. "But for the people who decide to take aspirin just off their own bat, this research has cast some doubt over whether it is a good idea". They noted however the escalated rate of bleeding in the team that accrued aspirin, as compared to the team that accrued a placebo.

With the growing proportion of elderly people in our community, a major focus of preventive medicine is to maintain the independence of this age-group for as long as possible.

The study was of 19,114 people in the U.S. and Australia in good health, with no history of heart problems and over the age of 70.

Details of the trial were published in three papers in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Additionally, higher death rates were reported among those taking aspirin daily although the researchers are skeptical about how much weight to put on the finding since it's an unexpected outcome compared to similar studies.

First developed in 1897, aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory.

In the UK, GPs generally do not advise aspirin for pensioners who have not previously suffered cardiovascular problems, such as a heart attack or stroke. This is referred to as secondary prevention.

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Researchers said the results don't apply to people prescribed low-dose aspirin after suffering a stroke, heart attack or other form of cardiovascular disease.

However more recent trials, including the ASCEND trial in diabetes and the ARRIVE trial in younger high-risk individuals, have thrown doubt on this proposition.

Prof 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".

"We found there was no discernible benefit of aspirin on prolonging independent, healthy life for the elderly", Dr. Anne Murray, one of the authors of the study and an epidemiologist and geriatrician at Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis, told National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Rob Stein. The study was funded largely by the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Australian National Health and Medical Council, Victorian Cancer Agency and Monash University. Unlike most studies, we required participants who weren't in hospital or sick. In Australia, 16 sites were established across south-eastern Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, the ACT and southern NSW, to localise study activity and host community events that kept our volunteers updated and involved. After nearly five years, the researchers did not perceive a contrast between two groups as far as disability-free survival was concerned.

Experts said the findings showed many older people may be taking the medicine "unnecessarily" and that it is "really of very little benefit".

Popping an aspirin pill everyday doesn't help older people to live longer and it may even have the opposite effect, a new study reveals. "There's a lot of folks on both sides of this but this study should end the question". It will also provide valuable information about other strategies to promote healthy ageing well into the future. Read the original article.

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