If you’re one of the nearly 50 million American adults who takes a daily aspirin to cut your risk of heart attack. Then, you need to know about these new findings.
Your doctor may recommend a daily low-dose of aspirin to prevent the blood clots that can trigger trouble.
Now it looks like people 75 and older may want to talk to their doctors about the safest way to follow this advice. A new Oxford University study published in the Lancet reveals low-dose aspirin dangerously raises the risk of internal bleeding. Some 48 million American adults report being on a low dose or baby aspirin for its blood-thinning capabilities.
While experts have long known that daily aspirin carries a risk of internal bleeding—in particular, upper gastrointestinal bleeding. The risk was so small that the government medical experts felt the heart benefits outweighed any risk at least for younger people. But what about older folks?
Of the 3,166 patients included in the Oxford study, half were 75 and older. The researchers found 405 cases of bleeding, and most were gastrointestinal. Disturbingly, the risk of dangerous bleeding jumped sharply with age and the bleedings were often disabling or fatal.
However, one subgroup of 75-and-older patients gain protection from the bleedings due to a prescribed heartburn medication known as a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI).
PPI cut the risk of upper gastrointestinal bleeding by 70 to 90 percent. As a result, the researchers stress that older patients should continue taking aspirin for protection. But they should also talk to their physician about taking PPI such as omeprazole as well.
“In people under 75, the benefits of taking aspirin for secondary prevention of a heart attack or stroke clearly outweigh the relatively small risk of bleeding,” said study author Peter Rothwell, MD, Ph.D., director of the Centre for Prevention of Stroke and Dementia at Oxford University.
“In the over-75s, the risk of a serious bleed is higher. But the key point is that this risk is substantially preventable by taking proton pump inhibitors alongside aspirin.”