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Daily Aspirin Risky for Heart Sufferers

London (dpa) - Taking a daily aspirin to prevent bloodclots carries a significant long-term risk of internal bleeding, a study published in the British Medical Journal on Friday said.

      Even at very low doses, long-term use of aspirin carried a significant risk of internal bleeding, a study by Yoon Kon Loke and Sheena Derry at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford revealed.

      A review pooling the results of 24 previous studies, involving nearly 66,000 patients, showed that on average 2.5 per cent of people taking aspirin suffered from gastrointestinal bleeding.

      This compared with a figure of 1.4 per cent for patients not taking aspirin - almost double the risk. The average number of pills needed to do harm was 106 per year.

      There was no evidence to indicate that switching to a low dose or taking a modified release formulation of aspirin lessened the chances of bleeding.

      The findings indicate that about one in 100 patients taking aspirin over a 28-month period will experience an episode of gastrointestinal bleeding.

      Aspirin is supposed to help people with heart problems because it helps to prevent blood clots.

      The researchers wrote: "Long-term therapy with aspirin is associated with a significant increase in the incidence of gastrointestinal haemorrhage. No evidence exists that reducing the dose or using modified release formulations would reduce the incidence of gastrointestinal haemorrhage."

      The benefits of aspirin were less obvious for preventing heart attacks or treating high blood pressure than for the secondary prevention of strokes, they said.

      However, the authors acknowledged that since the 12 per cent death rate after gastrointestinal haemorrhage was low compared with that from heart attacks, a trade-off might be considered worthwhile.

      "Doctors and patients involved in making decisions about aspirin therapy need to consider carefully whether the inconvenience of long-term therapy and the associated risk of gastrointestinal haemorrhage are outweighed by the potential cardiovascular benefits," they said.

      dpa

Copyright 2000 dpa Deutsche Press-Agentur GmbH




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