Preliminary results of the Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial — a large study that examined the risks and benefits of aspirin therapy in healthy older adults with no history of heart problems — show that daily, low-dose aspirin does not prolong life or cut disability or dementia risk, and that it can raise the risk of bleeding. Researchers say they need to do more analysis to evaluate the effects of aspirin therapy on the risk of death from cancer and heart disease.
ASPREE involved 19,114 older adults (16,703 in Australia and 2,411 in the United States) who were followed for an average of 4.7 years. Most study participants were at least 70; African Americans and Hispanics in the U.S. were enrolled in the study at 65 because of their increased risk for heart disease and dementia. Participants had no history of dementia, disability, or any medical condition requiring aspirin.
Overall, low-dose aspirin therapy (100 mg per day) didn’t affect dementia- or disability-free survival. In study participants randomly assigned to take aspirin, more than 90 percent were still living without dementia or disability at the end of the study period, about the same percentage as those who took a placebo. During the study, 5.9 percent of participants taking aspirin and 5.2 percent taking a placebo died, most from cancer. Risks for major cardiovascular events like heart attack and ischemic stroke, as well as disability, were similar in both groups. But the risk for abnormal bleeding, including gastrointestinal bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke, was higher in the aspirin group.
Sourced from: The New England Journal of Medicine