Doctors on the Fence about Aspirin Heart Benefits

Taking a low-dose aspirin once a day would not cut the risk of a first heart attack or stroke, a major new research has found. Previous studies have backed the benefits of taking blood thinners for people who have heart diseases or blood vessel-related problems. However, for relatively healthy folks, doctors are still on the fence about prescribing the popular medication to prevent first events of a heart attack.

This major new study, which was presented at ESC Congress 2018 and published in The Lancet finally proved that aspirin, for the majority of the population, can offer little to no benefits.

An Aspirin A Day Does Not Keep The Doctor Away

The groundbreaking study assessed a total of 12,546 volunteers from United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the United States who are at a moderate risk of experiencing their first heart attack within the next decade because of other health issues. The participants were randomly selected to be given either a 100 mg enteric-coated aspiring tablet or placebo daily.

“Aspirin did not reduce the occurrence of major cardiovascular events in this study,” said Professor J. Michael Gaziano, principal investigator. “However, there were fewer events than expected, suggesting that this was, in fact, a low-risk population. This may have been because some participants were taking medications to lower blood pressure and lipids, which protected them from disease.”

In addition, taking aspirin once a day poses even more risk to relatively healthy people. The medication caused one percent of the group to experience mild stomach or intestinal bleeding.

The people who took the medication also reported nosebleeds, reflux of belly pain, and indigestion.

Aspirin And Fish Oil For Diabetes

For people with diabetes, taking an aspirin a day can also cause serious complications, revealed another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. After monitoring over 15,000 patients with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, a fewer number of aspirin-takers develop heart problems over seven and a half years. However, scientists saw an uptick in serious bleeding in the same group.

Basically, patients with diabetes who have not had a heart attack would be trading one risk for another by taking aspirin once a day.

Neither fish oil, which is high on omega-3 fatty acids, can help people with diabetes offset a first heart attack. There is also no evidence of the medicine reducing the risk of any type of cancers.

“Even though we showed clearly that aspirin reduces the risk of vascular events, including heart attacks, strokes, and mini-strokes, it also increased the risk of major bleeds, mainly from the gastrointestinal tract, so overall there was no clear benefit,” stated Professor Jane Armitage, principal investigator.

The new research does not alter guidelines on aspirin or fish oil, but the decision to take the medicine or supplement daily to prevent heart diseases should be done after considering a medical professional.