The benefits of giving low dose aspirin to healthy people from the age of 70 to prevent heart disease are offset by increased cases of serious bleeding, argue researchers in a study published online by the BMJ this week.
Using a model, the team simulated the broad implications of routine use of aspirin in a population of 20,000 men and women aged 70-74 with no cardiovascular disease.
The model suggests that any benefits gained from the use of low dose aspirin (prevention of heart attacks) may be offset by increased cases of serious bleeding.
The figures also indicate that the overall balance of harm and benefit could tip either way. Therefore, the temptation to blindly implement low dose aspirin for prevention of heart disease in elderly people must be resisted, say the authors.
These findings reinforce the need for a clinical trial to establish the true benefit or harm of aspirin in elderly people, and underscore the importance of targeting preventive treatment to those who are likely to benefit most, they conclude.
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Contact: Emma Dickinson
BMJ-British Medical Journal
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