An Aspirin A Day Could Do More Harm Than Good
PHOENIX (Jan. 26, 2012) – One out of every five adults over 18, and almost half of those over age 65, take a daily aspirin in the hope of preventing heart attacks and strokes, even though many have never experienced either condition.
Now, an international study published in the Jan. 9 Archives of Internal Medicine has concluded that using aspirin before disease has struck (for prevention) may cause more harm than benefit to your health.
The trial was led by British researchers and studied over 100,000 people, average age 57, who had no history of heart attack and stroke, and took a baby aspirin everyday for six years. Participants were from nine groups in Europe, Japan, and the U.S. The researchers found that daily aspirin prevented one expected non-fatal heart attack in the large group, and had no significant effect on cancer deaths (which had been suggested in other studies). Disturbingly, these patients collectively experienced a two and a half times greater risk of internal bleeding. More specifically, for every 162 patients, the aspirin caused two cases of serious internal bleeding.
These results were surprising, as the longstanding belief by the medical community that taking a daily aspirin provided excellent cardiovascular preventative benefit with minimal risk. (This study focused only on the benefits of aspirin in healthy adults with no previous cardiac or vascular disease.) For patients who have experienced a heart attack or stroke or have cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or smoking, other studies have shown that the benefits of secondary prevention with aspirin outweigh the risks.
“The old thinking that everyone should take aspirin may not be the best idea,” said Dr. Gopi Cherukuri, cardiologist for Banner Good Samaritan’s Cavanagh Heart Center. “Patients should consult with their doctor prior to starting aspirin therapy.”
About Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center
Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center has been providing medical care to Arizona and the Southwest since 1911. Banner Good Samaritan is owned and operated by Phoenix-based Banner Health, a non-profit organization. The hospital was named to the 2011-’12 U.S.News & World Report’s “America’s Best Hospitals” list for Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Diabetes & Endocrinology, Geriatrics and Gynecology. Banner Good Samaritan has been recognized as a Magnet™ facility by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the highest honor a hospital can earn for its nursing care and practices, and has been named one of the Best Places to Work in the Valley by The Phoenix Business Journal and BestCompaniesAZ in 2007 and 2008 and one of the “Top 100 Hospitals to Work For” by Nursing Professionals magazine.