A recent research study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that the daily low-dose aspirin held no effects in healthy older adults. "Clinical guidelines note the benefits of aspirin for preventing heart attacks and strokes in persons with vascular conditions such as coronary artery disease," said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. "The concern has been uncertainty about whether aspirin is beneficial for otherwise healthy older people without those conditions. This study shows why it is so important to conduct this type of research so that we can gain a fuller picture of aspirin's benefits and risks among healthy older persons."
The study began in 2010 and enrolled participants aged 70 and older with 65 being the minimum age of entry for African-American and Hispanic individuals in the United States due to their increased their risk of dementia and cardiovascular disease. At the time of enrolment in the study, participants must have been free from dementia, physical disability, and any other medical conditions requiring aspirin use. Furthermore, each participant was placed on a follow-up for an average of 4.7 years to determine outcomes. They were followed for an average of 4.7 years to determine outcomes. It was later found that these participants treated with 100 mg of low-dose aspirin daily have not improved the survival free of dementia or disability. The rates of physical disability and dementia were almost identical in the group that did not receive the daily low-dose aspirin as well as the rates of major cardiovascular events, such as coronary heart disease, nonfatal heart attacks, and fatal and nonfatal ischemic stroke.
The study also found a risk of significant bleeding with aspirin use as well as an increased risk of death from cancer. "The increase in cancer deaths in study participants in the aspirin group was surprising, given prior studies suggesting aspirin use improved cancer outcomes," explains Leslie Ford, M.D., associate director for clinical research, NCI Division of Cancer Prevention. "Analysis of all the cancer-related data from the trial is underway and until we have additional data, these findings should be interpreted with caution."
"These initial findings will help to clarify the role of aspirin in disease prevention for older adults, but much more needs to be learned,” says Evan Hadley, M.D., director of NIA's Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology.
Source: National Institute on Aging