Daily Aspirin…The Latest!

Aspirin works!

But, not for all people.

One year ago I wrote to you about how this blood thinning drug clearly reduced the risk of a SECOND heart attack, a second stroke or second vein blood clot.  And, I suggested that all patients that have had one of these events, or have had a stent or bypass placed into a diseased blood vessel should stay on daily aspirin for life… if they can tolerate it.

Over the past year, doctors have experienced an avalanche of large and high quality medical studies that have examined if daily aspirin use would be of benefit to patients who have never had one of the above events.  These studies included patients with elevated risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes or age > 70 and who have NOT yet had a heart attack, stroke, or vein blood clot.

The answer on aspirin in these patients is a surprising… NOT HELPFUL.

There is little to no evidence that there is any benefit in taking a daily aspirin to prevent a first event, even in a moderate risk patient with high blood pressure, diabetes and elevated cholesterol.  In these types of patients, aspirin does increase the risk of internal intestinal bleeding, but without providing any benefit.  It seems that patients get far more benefit from good medication management of their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol than the use of aspirin.

With respect to decreasing the risk of cancer, which daily aspirin has been thought to do, the only evidence to support this is in patient’s taking daily aspirin for over 10 years.  In those patients there does appear to be a slight drop in COLON cancer.  However, it is probable that having a regular colonoscopy exam or other types of colon cancer screening would be far more beneficial in the prevention of colon cancer than taking daily aspirin.

So, take a daily aspirin if it’s recommended by your doctor.  Do not take aspirin daily on your own as it is likely to create more trouble than its worth.