Joseph R. Anticaglia MD
Medical Advisory Board
Three articles published in the New England Journal of Medicine on September 16, 2018 call into question the usefulness of aspirin for healthy seniors.
Researchers in Australian and the United States enrolled healthy individuals who were 70 years of age or older without any evidence of cardiovascular disease, dementia or physical disability.
The study, called “ASPREE,” was conducted from 2010 to 2014 and enrolled 19,114 persons. Half were randomly assigned to receive 100 mg of aspirin and the other half a placebo.
Among the objectives of this study were to ascertain if aspirin prolonged life, delayed dementia and reduced physical disabilities. The researchers also wanted to find out if aspirin posed a significant risk of bleeding to this group of people.
Low dose aspirin is widely used in the elderly population with no history of cardiovascular problems. Several studies support the usefulness of aspirin among persons with a history of heart attacks and strokes in preventing future cardiovascular problems.
But should healthy seniors take low dose aspirin? Does ASA improve the quality of their lives? Is aspirin beneficial? Do the risks outweigh the benefits? Would taking low dose aspirin prolong healthy life span, free from dementia and persistent physical disability?
- Low dose aspirin does not benefit healthy seniors — persons 70 years of age or older who do not have cardiovascular disease
- It does not prolong disability-free survival.
- The aspirin group had a higher incidence of major hemorrhage than the placebo group – intestinal bleeding
Think twice before taking aspirin. The risks are significant in this elderly group. Consult your physician about the advisability of taking ASA.
Aspirin is widely accepted as a useful drug in decreasing inflammation, for its anticoagulant properties and its beneficial effects on preventing cancer.
What is unclear is the usefulness of taking ASA by 50 or 60 year old healthy people to prevent cardiovascular and other problems. What’s not in doubt, according to this study, healthy 70 year olds should not start taking aspirin. One size doesn’t fit all!
John J McNeil, et al; Effect of Aspirin on Disability-free Survival in the Healthy Elderly; N.E.J. of Medicine, Sept 16, 2018
Rothwell PM et al; Effects of aspirin on risk and severity of early recurrent stroke…; Lancet. Jul 2016
“ASPREE” — Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly
This article is intended solely as a learning experience. Please consult your physician for diagnostic and treatment options.