Regular aspirin intake leads to 37 per cent increased risk of internal bleeding and 38 per cent increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke, researchers claim
By Daily Telegraph Reporter
11:56PM GMT 20 Dec 2013
Healthy adults who take a daily aspirin to reduce the threat of heart disease may be at risk of more harm than benefit, according to a review of past studies.
The anti-inflammatory drug is known to break down blood clots, which are caused by the hardening of arteries in those who have suffered from a stroke or heart attack.
But regular aspirin intake has also led to a 37 per cent increased risk of internal bleeding and a 38 per cent increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke, the researchers found.
They linked regular aspirin intake to the avoidance of 33 to 46 deaths from any cause in 10,000 people over a 10-year period. But 46 to 49 major bleeds and 68 to 117 gastrointestinal bleeds in 10,000 people in a 10-year period also occurred as a result of the drug.
Dr Peter Sandercock, of the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Too many healthy people think that aspirin will prevent heart attacks and cancer.
“This shows that if you are healthy, with no symptoms of cardiovascular disease, then it is not sensible to take regular aspirin. It won’t improve your health.” But Dr Sandercock, who was not involved in the study, added that aspirin continues to do some good among those who have already suffered from heart disease.
Past research has shown that someone who experiences a minor stroke has a zero to 15 per cent chance of experiencing another one the next year, he said. “Aspirin could reduce the stroke risk by one quarter, and that big benefit outweighs the small bleeding risk,” he said.
The research team from Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick analysed 27 randomised controlled trials and reviews of such trials dated from 2008 to 2012.
The trials, which allocate at random the participants taking a number of drugs being studied, are known as the gold standard for a clinical trial.
Paul Sutcliffe, who led the team, said: “There is a plethora of evidence in this area but nobody has drawn together the advantages and disadvantages of aspirin in a systematic way.
“We need to be extremely careful about promoting the daily use without fully understanding all the evidence.
“All I would say is to not stop taking aspirin without talking to your doctor.”
He added: “If you are healthy, the harms of daily aspirin cancel out the benefits.” The study was published in the open-access journal Plos One.