Aspirin may not be as effective in preventing heart disease as previously thought, a recent analysis revealed. In a review of 11 previous studies, researchers at the University of Florida Health noted that the drug did not show efficacy in reducing cardiovascular deaths, nor heart attack and stroke risk in patients with peripheral arterial disease.
For the study, the scientists examined data on peripheral arterial disease (PAD) patients and found that 7.7 percent of those who took the drug died after six years, compared with 8.5 percent of those who did not take the drug. According to researchers, the difference did not show a statistical significance. The analysis also showed that heart attack and stroke incidence were similar for both groups.
The analysis also revealed that the drug may also induce bleeding in the stomach and in the brain in rare cases, which in turn may increase the odds of suffering stroke. Aspirin was also found to be significantly less effective compared with other less-risky anticoagulants like warfarin. However, researchers noted that further studies are needed to confirm the findings. The experts also stressed that patients should not immediately stop taking the medication.
“Peripheral arterial disease is a devastating condition and a major cause of lower limb amputation and infection in the U.K. This research challenges current guidelines, by suggesting aspirin doesn’t improve the outlook for people suffering from PAD, although further trials are needed to confirm this,” said Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, in an article in DailyMail.co.uk.
The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Other studies disprove aspirin’s efficacy in cutting heart risk
A vast number of studies have previously established that aspirin may not be as effective in lowering heart risk as previously believed.
A 2016 study found that aspirin did not reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with diabetes or peripheral arterial disease. To assess this, researchers examined 1, 276 patients with either diabetes or PAD and conducted a follow up after eight years. According to the experts, the incidence of heart attack and stroke were similar for patients who were on daily aspirin treatment and those in the placebo group. However, the researchers noted that the treatment may work as a secondary therapy in patients who already had a history of heart attack. The findings were published in the British Medical Journal.
Another study showed that the drug was not effective in curbing cardiovascular risks in older patients. As part of research, health experts at the University of Shin-Oyama City Hospital in Tochigi, Japan assessed more than 14,000 elderly patients with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. The study revealed that the number of cardiac deaths, heart attack and stroke did not differ between those who took the drug and those who did not. In addition, patients who were on aspirin treatment were at an increased risk of experiencing potentially dangerous bleeding. The findings were presented at the American Heart Association annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois. The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
A study conducted by the Irish Heart Foundation‘s National Cardiovascular & Stroke Research Network further emphasized the drug’s inefficacy in cutting the risk of heart attack. According to the research, the drug failed to show efficacy in reducing cardiovascular risk for about 20 percent of patients. “The profile of the patients who are not adequately protected are typically men with high blood pressure, overweight and with a high alcohol intake. This group, who are at high risk of recurrent heart attack, are not getting the benefit of a cheap and generally effective therapy,” said lead researcher Professor Dermot Kenny in IrishHealth.com.