26 August 2002

Daily aspirin not for all

Although those at risk of a heart attack can benefit from daily aspirin, this does not mean that the drug is right for everyone.

Although research suggests that those at risk of a heart attack can benefit from daily aspirin, this does not mean that the drug is right for everyone, say US researchers.

Research into the benefits of taking aspirin daily to prevent heart attacks, has not adequately measured its effects in those at low risk of cardiovascular disease, according to researchers from Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Georgia.

In fact, given aspirin's side-effects, which include bleeding, some people might be better off avoiding a daily dose.

More harm than good
The research team reviewed previous research into the benefits of aspirin for preventing heart disease and heart attacks in those at a low risk of developing heart disease.

Risk factors for developing heart disease include a family history of the disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. Men older than 45 and women over 55 are also at a higher risk.

Study author Dr John Boltri and colleagues found that people who were at low risk of cardiovascular disease, reported no decrease in their risk of death when they took aspirin regularly than when they didn't. In fact, their findings show that low-risk patients who take aspirin might have a higher risk of dying than those without a daily dose.

Weigh up the options
Patients should speak to their doctors about their risk of a heart attack, to determine whether the benefits of aspirin would be greater than the side-effects, Boltri reports in the Journal of Family Practice.

Aspirin works to prevent heart attacks by reducing the ability of platelets in the blood to stick together or form a clot within the blood vessels. – (Health24)


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