You have probably taken an aspirin for a headache or to relieve pain. Some senior citizens take baby aspirin to prevent the risk of heart disease.
Three new reports by the New England Journal of Medicine that were partially supported by the National Institutes of Health, found that an aspirin a day might not be such a good idea.
Healthy seniors citizens taking a low dose of aspirin -- a remedy commonly referred to as ‘baby aspirin' -- every day to prevent heart attacks or cardiovascular disease, may do more harm than good.
In the three studies, 19,114 people who were an average age of 74-years-old were enrolled in the study published by the New England Journal of Medicine. The group, in the ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial, were then divided into two groups. One group consisted of 9,525 people while the second group had 9,589 subjects.
The first half was given baby aspirin, which consist of approximately 100 milligrams per day. The other half were given a placebo. The participants in the study were followed for about five years.
The results questioned the necessity and effectiveness of a drug that has been recommended by doctors for decades as a safe way to prevent serious medical problems in healthy senior citizens.
One report studied the effects of aspirin in people over the age of 65. The second report focused on how aspirin plays a role in the death of healthy elderly people who used the pill as a preventative measure. The third report studied how some elderly people use low-dose aspirin as a primary prevention method for heart conditions.
The results showed that routinely taking aspirin can increase the risk of bleeding in the stomach and the brain. They also found habitual consumers of aspirin have an increased risk of developing cancer.
For healthy elderly people, the results indicated an increase risk of death. The risk of cardiovascular disease was not lowered.
"Clinical guidelines note the benefits of aspirin for preventing heart attacks and strokes in persons with vascular conditions such as coronary artery disease," NIH Director, Richard Hodes, said in a statement. "The concern has been uncertainty about whether aspirin is beneficial for otherwise healthy older people without those conditions."
The results show it doesn’t help seniors who are already healthy and have no history of cardiovascular disease, dementia, or disability. This doesn't change the fact that taking a baby aspirin a day still appears to be helpful for “secondary prevention,” or fend off illness in people who already have heart disease or stroke. Still, talk to your doctor before taking it or continuing to take a low dosage of aspirin a day.
Those who are healthy and are taking aspirin as a preventative measure, make sure you talk to your doctor.