At one time, low doses of aspirin were recommended to some people to ward off heart attacks, and they still may be for some people. But the influence of aspirin on heart health is debated and complicated. Recent guidelines have changed, and low-dose aspirin is no longer recommended as a heart disease preventive. New research found a 26 percent increase in the risk of heart failure in individuals using aspirin who are predisposed to developing heart failure from conditions including obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or high cholesterol. The findings have been reported in the journal ESC [European Society of Cardiology] Heart Failure.
"This is the first study to report that among individuals with a least one risk factor for heart failure, those taking aspirin were more likely to subsequently develop the condition than those not using the medication," said study author Dr. Blerim Mujaj of the University of Freiburg. "While the findings require confirmation, they do indicate that the potential link between aspirin and heart failure needs to be clarified."
This study evaluated data from 30,827 American and Western European individuals who were at risk for developing heart failure, meaning they had one of the aforementioned predispositions. Everyone in the study was over the age of 40, with an average age of 67, and 34 percent were women. None of the participants had heart failure.
At the time of enrollment, the researchers noted whether or not they used aspirin; 25 percent of them were. The study authors followed up on the participants the first time they had non-fatal heart failure incident in which they had to be hospitalized, or a fatality.
At the 5.3-year point, 1,330 participants had developed heart failure. The study suggested that taking aspirin was linked to a 26 percent increase of a new diagnosis of heart failure, even when the researchers controlled for many factors including diabetes, heart rate, smoking, age, sex, medications, and alcohol use.
When the researchers repeated the analysis but assessed 22,690 participants that were free of cardiovascular disease, there was a 27 percent increase in the risk of incident heart failure.
While other research has investigated the link between aspirin and the heart, Mujaj said this is "the first large study to investigate the relationship between aspirin use and incident heart failure in individuals with and without heart disease and at least one risk factor." Mujaj added that a lot of people use aspirin, and this study has suggested that people should use caution with the drug if they have had heart failure or have other risk factors, but noted that "large multinational randomized trials in adults at risk for heart failure are needed to verify these results."