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A daily dose of aspirin doesn’t help older people to stay healthy

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Posted October 3, 2018

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. That is how that old saying goes, but some people substitute apple with a pill of aspirin. This quite strange yet very common behaviour was encouraged by doctors and older people alike. It is believed that taking a low daily dose of aspirin prolongs good health of people over 70. However, a Monash University-led study proved that aspirin doesn‘t have such effect.

Aspirin is not a drug from everything – it cannot prolong good health just by itself. Image credit: 14 Mostafa&zeyad via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The study, creatively called ASPREE (ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly), included more than 19,000 participants in Australia and the US. It is the largest work of this kind in the world. It is very important too, because millions of older people are taking low dose of aspiring every day to preserve good health for longer. Some people believe that aspiring actually helps you live longer, even though there is no data to support such claims. This new study found that aspirin doesn’t have such effect – it does not prolong a healthy life, it does not significantly reduce the risk of a first heart attack or stroke, and it does not make you live longer. There was little to no effect between people who were administered a placebo and those who took daily aspirin.

However, this doesn’t mean that aspirin is not a useful drug – it is just not a good pre-emptive measure against certain conditions. At the same time it is appropriately prescribed to people who have had a heart attack or stroke – it just cannot prevent the first occurrence of these conditions. Cardiovascular health in later stages of life cannot depend on aspirin. Instead people should make dietary changes, stay physically active, get regular check-ups. These results also provide some guidance to doctors who were not sure, whether they should or should not suggest taking low-doses of aspirin every day.

Furthermore, aspirin does have side effects, such as gastrointestinal bleeding or intracranial haemorrhage. 3.8 % of people who were taking aspirin regularly suffered from these conditions, while in the placebo group this rate was only 2.8 %. On the other hand, scientists say that patients should continue following doctor’s prescription if he decides that aspirin is needed. Professor Nigel Stocks, one of the investigators from the study, said: “If your doctor has prescribed regular aspirin for an existing health condition, such as a previous heart attack, angina or stroke then you should be guided by your doctor. The results of this study applies to healthy older people taking aspirin to prevent dementia, heart disease, stroke or with the belief it might extend their life”.

All medicine has its purpose. It may change through the time, but in general it is some specialized stuff. You should always consult a doctor before making a decision to take some drug every day.

 

Source: University of Adelaide

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