Washington: Taking low-dose aspirin every day may reduce the risk of a heart attack, prevent some cancers and extend lives over the course of 20 years in adults at high risk of heart disease, a new study has claimed.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women, researchers said.
Aspirin can help patients at risk of heart disease because it thins the blood and prevents clotting.
“Although the health benefits of aspirin are well established, few people take it,” said lead author David B Agus from the University of Southern California in the US.
“Our study shows multiple health benefits and a reduction in health care spending from this simple, low-cost measure that should be considered a standard part of care for the appropriate patient,” said Agus.
Researchers used representative data from several surveys.
To assess the long-term benefits of aspirin, they ran two scenarios which project the health of older Americans and their trajectory in ageing.
The model accounted for individual health characteristics such as chronic disease, the ability to conduct daily activities, body mass index and mortality, researchers said.
The first scenario in the study, the “Guideline Adherence”, focused on determining the potential health and savings, benefits and drawbacks of following the task force’s guidelines from 2009.
The second scenario, “Universal Eligibility”, was not realistic and aimed to measure the full potential benefits and drawbacks if all Americans 51 and older, regardless of the guidelines, took aspirin every day.
They found that following the guidelines would prevent 11 cases of heart disease and four cases of cancer for every 1,000 Americans aged 51 to 79.
Life expectancy would improve by 0.3 years (largely disability-free), so out of 1,000 people, eight more would reach age 80 and three more would reach the age of 100.
Also, by 2036, an estimated 900,000 more Americans would be alive as a result of the aspirin regimen, researchers said.
However, the researchers found no significant reduction in stroke incidence. Also, the rate of gastrointestinal bleeding would increase 25 per cent from the current rate.
This means that two out of 63 Americans could expect to suffer a bleeding incident between the ages of 51 to 79.
The optimistic “Universal Eligibility” scenario, which assumes that the clinically-proven benefits of aspirin extend to all older Americans, showed slightly larger health benefits than the “Guideline Adherence” scenario.
Although longer life spans mean an increase in lifetime medical costs, “observing the guidelines would yield positive and significant net value,” researchers said.
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.