New Research Says Aspirin May Not Be Helpful in Preventing Atherosclerosis

By Lisa Franchi on June 12, 2017

Many people rely on aspirins to maintain normal functioning of their cardiovascular system. But according to the latest research, aspirin may provide little or no benefit for certain patients who have plaque build-up in their arteries.

For the study, researchers at the University of Florida Health tracked 33,000 patients with atherosclerosis – a condition in which the arteries narrow and harden. They found that aspirin is marginally beneficial for those who have had a previous heart attack, stroke or other blood-flow issues involving arteries. However, among atherosclerosis patients with no prior heart attack or stroke, aspirin had no apparent benefit.

Among more than 21,000 patients who had a previous heart attack or stroke, researchers found that the risk of subsequent cardiovascular death, heart attack or stroke was marginally lower among aspirin users.

For those atherosclerosis patients who had not experienced a heart attack or stroke, aspirin appeared to have no effect. The risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack and stroke was 10.7 percent among aspirin users and 10.5 percent for non-users.

"Aspirin therapy is widely used and embraced by cardiologists and general practitioners around the world. This takes a bit of the lustre off the use of aspirin," according to Anthony Bavry, M.D., an associate professor in the UF College of Medicine’s department of medicine and a cardiologist at the Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Centre in Gainesville.

He said the findings do not undercut aspirin’s vital role in more immediate situations: If a heart attack or stroke is underway or suspected, patients should still take aspirin as a treatment measure.

But because their study is observational, Bavry said clinical trials are needed to ascertain that aspirin has little or no effect on some people with atherosclerosis.

"The benefit of aspirin is still maintained in acute events like a heart attack or a stroke," Bavry said.

The study was published in the journal Clinical Cardiology.

Source of this article:

University of Florida

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