Aspirin use safe and effective in patients with abnormal red cell counts (or with polycythemia)

(San Diego, Calif., December 7, 2003) The use of low-dose aspirin significantly reduces the risk of thrombosis in patients with polycythemia vera, an abnormal increase in blood cells resulting from excess production by the bone marrow, according to a study presented today during the 45th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology. Thrombosis is the formation or presence of a blood clot within a vessel that may cause a stroke or heart attack.

"These results indicate a high benefit/risk ratio of aspirin in a polycythemic population, suggesting that aspirin should be used in all patients with polycythemia vera having no contraindication to this treatment," said Raffaele Landolfi, M.D., of the Istituto di Medicina Interna e Geriatria, Universit Cattolica, Rome, Italy, lead author of the study.

Aspirin treatment (100 mg per day) significantly reduced the risk of thrombosis in polycythemic patients who were undergoing standard cytoreductive treatments (therapies aimed at reducing the number of blood cells). Treatment with aspirin lowered the risk of cardiovascular death, non-fatal myocardial infarction, non-fatal stroke, pulmonary embolism, and venous thrombosis. The risk of minor thrombotic events was also significantly decreased.

Researchers reported no excess of major bleeding in patients on aspirin treatment. Major, total, and gastrointestinal bleedings were not significantly increased. Only the risk of nosebleeds, or epistaxix, was significantly increased.

Polycythemia vera is an acquired disorder of the bone marrow that causes the overproduction of all three blood cell lines white and red blood cells and platelets. It is a relatively rare disease that occurs more frequently in men than women, usually within the age range of 40 to 80, although it may occur in younger subjects. Polycythemia vera develops slowly, and most patients do not experience any problems related to the disease

Contact: Aimee Frank
American Society of Hematology

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