Medical Minute

Medical Minute: The effects of aspirin

A trio of studies recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that the long-observed regimen of taking a daily aspirin does not provide any significant benefits for healthy older adults and may do more harm than good. 

The primary study was conducted among 20,000 healthy people in the U.S. and Australia, with a median age of 74. 

Half received 100 milligrams of aspirin per day. Half received a placebo.

After nearly five years, researchers didn't observe a difference between the two groups when it came to "disability-free" survival but did see a higher rate of bleeding among those who received the aspirin, than those who received the placebo. 

A second study found the risk of major hemorrhage significantly higher with aspirin than placebo. 

The third found higher all-cause mortality in the daily aspirin group than the placebo, though researchers said that result was unexpected and should be interpreted with caution. 

For patients who have already suffered a heart attack or stroke, previous research is clear, the benefits of a daily aspirin outweigh risks.

And researchers are not recommending that healthy adults taking daily aspirin -- suddenly stop doing so. Check with your doctor first, as you always should, before starting or stopping any medication.

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