Warning For People Over 75-Years-Old Who Take A Daily Aspirin

Oceane Deschanel
Junho 15, 2017

Professor Peter Rothwell who led the study, which was published in the Lancet, said: "Our new study gives us a much clearer understanding of the size of the increased risk and the severity and consequences of bleeds in over 75s". For patients aged 75-84, the annual rate rose to approximately 3.5% and to 5% for patients aged over 85.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of Global Positioning System, said: "Aspirin is known to be an affordable and effective drug for patients who have suffered a stroke or heart attack, but we have known for some time that there are risks involved with its long-term use - and this research shows, it is particularly the case for our older patients". However, according to Rothwell, it is not a good idea to stop using aspirin without consulting your doctor.

3,166 patients who had previously had a stroke or heart attack and were prescribed antiplatelet drugs, mainly aspirin, half of whom were at least 75 at the start of the study.

During this time 314 patients were admitted to hospital for internal bleeding.

For the people who don't have any heart problems or strokes, the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding goes up with age for the aspirin users.

The risk of disabling or fatal bleeding also climbed with age, coming in at less than 0.5 percent for under 65s and 1.5 percent for those aged 75-84 and almost 2.5 percent for patients aged 85 or over.

PPIs are not widely prescribed for prevention of gastrointestinal bleeds in patients taking antiplatelet therapy, which the researchers say is probably because of concerns about adverse effects and the perception that upper gastrointestinal bleeds aren't generally serious.

"There is some evidence that long-term PPI use might have some small risks", Rothwell noted.

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"It would not be correct, for example, to say that the risk of a serious bleed is ten times higher in the over-75s than in younger people".

"This research is an important step forward as it shows that the risk of bleeding is substantially higher in people over 75 years and that older people who require aspirin may particularly benefit from also being routinely given heartburn drugs which protect the stomach".

Only a few were being treated with a different drug, clopidogrel. Although aspirin is taken by 40% to 60% of people over 75, the studies demonstrating the safety of aspirin were performed in trials with younger participants.

The painkiller is often prescribed to help prevent heart disease and strokes in those patients deemed to be most at risk.

And the risks of fatal or disabling bleeds continued to increase with age. But for the older age outweighs the risk.

The preventative effects are well-established in people who have suffered a major heart event, reducing the risk of another by 20%.

A common pain killer that has a number of uses, the NHS advises that some types of aspirin can be bought over the counter from pharmacies while others are only available on prescription and can take the form of pills and tablets that are dissolved in water, and powders and oral gels.

But "the new data should provide reassurance that the benefits of PPI use at older age outweigh the risks". In the United Kingdom, around 40% adults aged 75 and above consume aspirin daily.

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