A synthetic compound used medicinally to relieve chronic or mild pain and to reduce inflammation and fever, referred to as aspirin and known as acetylsalicylic acid (ASA). It is given to a patient after having a heart attack to decrease the risk of death. It is also used long-term to help prevent additional heart attacks, blood clots, and ischoemic strokes in high risk people. The risk of certain types of cancer are decreased with the use of aspirin. Here Dennis Thompson, Healthy Day Reporter, WebMD.com, reflects on a study that doubts the worthiness of daily aspirin use for the elderly:
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“There’s disappointing news for seniors: A new trial shows that taking daily low-dose aspirin doesn’t prolong healthy, independent living in otherwise healthy people aged 70 and older.
Researchers had hoped that aspirin’s specific effects might help folks ease gracefully into their old age.
“The thinking was the double action of blood thinning and anti-inflammation might decrease the risk of dementia and disability,” explained senior researcher Dr. Anne Murray, director of the Berman Center for Outcomes and Clinical Research at Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis.
But a major new clinical trial has concluded that daily aspirin does not prolong disability-free survival in the elderly.
In fact, aspirin could put their health at risk by increasing the risk of bleeding in the brain and the gastrointestinal tract, researchers found.
“We were so hoping that such an inexpensive and accessible medication might be effective in prolonging healthy independent life,” Murray said.
Daily aspirin is recommended for people between 50 and 69 if they are at increased risk of heart disease, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a guideline-setting expert panel.
However, there’s not been enough medical evidence to say whether aspirin would help elderly folks, the USPSTF says.
“It’s the first of its kind to address this question,” said Dr. Basil Eldadah, chief of the Geriatrics Branch of the U.S. National Institute on Aging. “It’s an important issue because so many older people in the United States take aspirin, and there’s not clear evidence up until now whether that’s indicated.”
To answer the question, researchers recruited just over 19,000 people in Australia and the United States with an average age of 74, and assigned half to take daily aspirin and the other half to receive a placebo.
People were recruited between 2010 and 2014, and had to be free of dementia, physical disability or any medical condition that would require aspirin use. They were followed for an average of close to five years.”
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