Are you currently using Aspirin daily?

Both my parents are on blood thinners and I have noticed how easily they both bleed when suffering from only a minor scratch. They put up with it because they want to reduce their chances of having a heart attack or stroke. Researchers at Oxford University have complicated matters by highlighting some disturbing results linked to the use of blood thinners.

Taking a daily aspirin can be more dangerous than was originally thought and causes more than 3000 deaths a year in Britain, a major study suggests.
Millions of UK pensioners take the blood-thinning pills to ward off heart attacks and strokes.

But researchers at Oxford University found that those older than 75 who use aspirin daily are 10 times more likely than younger patients to suffer disabling or fatal bleed

Researchers said patients of this age who have already suffered heart attacks or stroke should still take the daily tablet, but should also take an extra drug to reduce the risk of bleeding.
The study says pensioners who take aspirin daily “as a health choice” should consider weaning themselves off of the drug.

However, doctors stressed that no one should come off the pills quickly, or without consulting their GP, as doing so would create an immediate risk of heart attack.
…It has long been known that aspirin carries an increased risk of gastro-intestinal bleeding but the new study, published in the Lancet, suggests the danger rises far more sharply with age than was thought.

The study’s lead author, Professor Peter Rothwell, said blood thinners were causing around 20,000 bleeds annually, of which at least 3000 were fatal.

Although 20 per cent of potential recurrent heart attacks and strokes are prevented by aspirin, Rothwell, the director of Oxford’s stroke prevention centre, warned: “There are also about 3000 excess bleeding deaths attributable to blood-thinners like aspirin across all age-groups.”

All patients who have had a heart attack or stroke should still take aspirin, he stressed.
But those above the age of 75 should also be prescribed a proton pump inhibitor which would reduce bleeding risks by up to 90 per cent.

Those without such medical histories should consider coming off aspirin altogether, he suggested.

The study involved 3166 patients who had a stroke or heart attack, most of whom were prescribed aspirin.

For patients under 65, the annual rate of disabling or fatal bleeding was less than 0.5 per cent, rising to 1.5 per cent in those aged 75 to 84 and nearly 2.5 per cent for patients aged 85 or older. Over the decade, those over 75 had six times the risk of fatal bleeds, and a tenfold increased risk of bleeds which were either deadly or disabling.

…While the drugs had “tiny benefits” for such patients in their fifties and sixties, the dangers increase with age.

“You would probably be advised to stop it in your late sixties or around 70 because at that point the risks may well outweigh the benefits,” he said.

Doctors stressed no one should come off their drugs quickly or without consulting a GP.

…”Although bleeding is a well-recognised side effect, this drug is still seen by many people as harmless, perhaps because of how easily it can be bought,” he said.

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