Aspirin Poses Serious Bleeding Risk in Older Adults
After heart attack or stroke, aspirin therapy can be lifesaving because it helps reduce the risk of additional cardiovascular events. But aspirin also raises the risk of abnormal bleeding. Although the benefits outweigh the risks for most heart patients, research published in the Lancet suggests that adults over 75 who take low-dose aspirin daily are at higher risk for stomach bleeding than previously thought.
For the study, researchers at Oxford University in England followed 3,166 stroke and heart attack patients prescribed aspirin or a similar blood-thinning drug. In patients under 65, the yearly rate of major or fatal bleeds was less than 0.5 percent—about one in 200. In those between the ages of 75 and 84, three in 200 experienced a major or fatal bleed, and the risk continued to increase with age.
According to the researchers, older people on aspirin therapy should also take a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to protect the stomach and reduce the risk for abnormal bleeding.