LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM. The use of aspirin for the prevention of heart attacks is a fairly common practice especially in North America. Clinical trials have shown that taking 75 mg of aspirin per day may reduce the incidence of major cardiovascular events by about 20 per cent over a seven-year period. British doctors now report that while daily aspirin usage may benefit some men it may actually harm others. Their study involved 5499 men between the ages of 45 and 69 years who were at increased risk of coronary heart disease. The men were given either a placebo or 75 mg aspirin in a controlled release formulation. The researchers found that the younger men with a relatively low systolic blood pressure (less than 130 mm Hg) benefitted significantly from taking aspirin while the older men (over 65 years of age) and the men with higher systolic pressure (above 145 mm Hg) actually were worse off if taking aspirin. The researchers point out that a recent large-scale study in the UK found that men who take 75 mg of aspirin per day have a 2.3 times higher risk of developing bleeding ulcers than do men not taking aspirin. They conclude that "it may be that four or five heart attacks would be avoided by treating 1000 men for a year, but the risk of serious non-cerebral bleeding would also need to be taken into account." They further conclude that "men with higher blood pressure derive no cardio-protective benefit from aspirin but risk possible serious bleeding." NOTE: This study was partly funded by DuPont Pharma and Bayer.
Meade, T.W., et al. Determination of who may derive most benefit from aspirin in primary prevention: subgroup results from a randomised controlled trial. British Medical Journal, Vol. 321, July 1, 2000, pp. 13- 17