Aspirin tablets
Aspirin tablets (Representational image) | Joe Kohen/Bloomberg
Text Size:

New Delhi: The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have issued new guidelines on the use of Aspirin — the well-established therapy for the prevention of heart attack — urging healthy elderly people to stay away from the drug.

The new guidelines, issued Sunday, emphasise on lifestyle changes rather than the consumption of Aspirin for healthy, old-aged people but add that “select high-risk patients” should take “low dose aspirin for primary prevention”.

They are based on two studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine last October.

What the studies say

Both the studies are by the same researchers and relied on the same sample size.

The researchers surveyed over 19,000 people who were 70 years of age or older and did not have cardiovascular disease, dementia, or disability. Around 9,525 people were assigned to receive the low-dose of aspirin of 100 milligrams.

The results were published in two papers.

In one of them, titled Effect of Aspirin on Cardiovascular Events and Bleeding in the Healthy Elderly, the researchers state that Aspirin’s role in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease is unclear, especially in low risk, older people.

We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.

Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

“The use of low-dose aspirin as a primary prevention strategy in older adults resulted in a significantly higher risk of major haemorrhage and did not result in a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease…,” the paper said.

It, however, found that the drug can be used for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular events where the patient has a clinical history of blood clots or cardiac arrests.

The other paper, Effect of Aspirin on All-Cause Mortality in the Healthy Elderly, concluded that “higher all-cause mortality was observed among apparently healthy older adults who received daily aspirin”.

The researchers found that even low doses of aspirin — 100 milligrams — did not help the healthy older people but probably harmed them. “In the context of previous studies, this result was unexpected and should be interpreted with caution,” it says.


Also read: Vitamin C will soon stop being a medicine in India


Aspirin and India

Aspirin, also known as acetylsalicylic acid, is used as an analgesic to relieve minor aches and pains. While it is also used to reduce fever and swelling in the body, it is predominantly used as a blood thinning agent.

It is sold under several brand names in India such as Ecosprin, Sprin, Aspro, Eprin and Delisprin. Indians bought over 7 crore strips of the medicine last year, valued at a little over Rs 3 crore, according to data with the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists, a lobby of off-line pharmacies across India.

Doctors in India do prescribe the drug to elderly patients.

“Aspirin is a known medicine for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular events,” said J.P.S. Sawhney, chairman of the department of cardiology at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

“Doctors, however, used to prescribe the medicine to healthy, elderly patients to prevent age-related heart attacks and strokes.”

Sawhney said that the drug did have side effects. “The drug did not lower the risks of heart attack or dementia,” he said. “But it has proven to increase the risk of life-threatening bleeding in the digestive tract and brain, which have required the transportation of patients to the hospital.”

The medicine is ‘mandatory’ for those who already have a history of heart attacks or strokes, said Nishith Chandra, director, interventional cardiology, Fortis-Escorts Heart Institute.

“The drug is a blood thinner and should not be stopped by those who fall in the high-risk category and those who suffer from high blood pressure,” he said. “But people on Aspirin daily dosage should re-consider the prescription and should pop the pill only when they show symptoms.”


Also read: Nearly 400 cancer medicine prices slashed by up to 87%


 

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.

Support Our Journalism

1 Comment Share Your Views

1 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here