An aspirin a day may not keep the doctor away, at least for healthy older adults.
A massive clinical trial led by Australian and American researchers found that taking a low-dose aspirin of 100 milligrams didn’t keep older adults healthy and independent longer than a group who took a placebo.
In results published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found no reduced risk of dementia or persistent physical disability. Nor did they find that low-dose aspirin prevented a first heart attack or stroke. What the study did establish is that people who took an aspirin a day were at increased risk of bleeding, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract and brain.
The study throws a monkey wrench into the habits of many people who have viewed aspirin as a panacea to some of the inevitabilities of aging. The benefits of aspirin for healthy people of other age groups remains unclear, as this study only looked at seniors.
The seven-year study involved about 19,000 healthy participants from Australia or the United States. Most were age 70 or older. African-Americans or Latinos ages 65 or older were included because of their higher risk of dementia and cardiovascular disease.
The findings do not relate to those patients who are taking aspirin after having a stroke or a heart attack. Aspirin, which inhibits clotting, has been shown in previous research to be beneficial to this group of patients.
Researchers said healthy older adults who aren’t already taking an aspirin a day shouldn’t take it if they don’t need it for pain relief. And they urge those already on a daily dose to talk to their doctor before quitting.