HEALTH

Heart study: Low- and regular-dose aspirin safe, effective

May 15, 2021, 2:55 PM
low dose aspirin study...
FILE - This Aug. 23, 2018 file photo shows an arrangement of aspirin pills in New York. A large study finds that low-dose and regular-strength aspirin seem equally safe and effective for preventing additional heart problems in people who already have heart disease. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)
(AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)

An unusual study that had thousands of heart disease patients enroll themselves and track their health online as they took low- or regular-strength aspirin concludes that both doses seem equally safe and effective for preventing additional heart problems and strokes.

However, there’s an important caveat: People had such a strong preference for the lower dose that it’s unclear if the results can establish that the treatments are truly equivalent, some independent experts said. The half who were told to take the higher dose took the lower dose instead, or, quit using aspirin altogether.

Study: Wearable heart sensor prevents hospitalization in heart patients

“Patients basically decided for themselves” what they wanted to take because they bought the aspirin on their own, said Dr. Salim Virani, a cardiologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston who had no role in the study.

Still, the results show there’s little reason to take the higher dose, 325 milligrams, which many doctors assumed would work better than 81-milligram “baby aspirin,” he said.

How the FDA helps jack up the price you pay at the pharmacy counter

Results were published Saturday by the New England Journal of Medicine and discussed at an American College of Cardiology conference.

Aspirin helps prevent blood clots, but it’s not recommended for healthy people who have not yet developed heart disease because it carries a risk of bleeding. Its benefits are clear, though, for folks who already have had a heart attack, bypass surgery or clogged arteries requiring a stent.

But the best dose isn’t known, and the study aimed to compare them in a real-world setting. The study was funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, created under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to help patients make informed decisions about health care.

About 15,000 people received invitations to join through the mail, email or a phone call and enrolled on a website where they returned every three to six months for follow-up. A network of participating health centers supplied medical information on participants from their electronic records and insurance claims.

The participants were randomly assigned to take low- or regular-dose aspirin, which they bought over the counter. Nearly all were taking aspirin before the study began and 85% were already on a low dose, so “it was an uphill task right from the get-go” to get people to use the dose they were told, Virani said.

After roughly two years, about 7% of each group had died or been hospitalized for a heart attack or a stroke. Safety results also were similar — less than 1% had major bleeding requiring hospitalization and a transfusion.

Treating rebound headaches with early preventative meds best choice, study finds

Nearly 41% of those assigned to take the higher dose switched at some point to the lower one, and that high rate “could have obscured a true difference” in safety or effectiveness, Colin Baigent, a medical scientist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, wrote in a commentary in the medical journal.

One study leader, Dr. Schuyler Jones of Duke University, said the study still provides valuable guidance. If patients are taking low-dose aspirin now, “staying on that dose instead of switching is the right choice,” he said. People doing well on 325 milligrams now may want to continue on that and should talk with their doctors if they have any concerns.

For new patients, “in general, we’re going to recommend starting the low dose,” Jones said.

Virani said people must remember that aspirin is a medicine and that even though it’s sold over the counter, patients shouldn’t make decisions on its use by themselves.

“Don’t change the dose or stop without talking to someone,” he warned. “This is important, especially for a therapy like aspirin.”
___
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Today’s Top Stories

Health

Protesters hold signs and chant at the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 24, 2022, as ...
Martha Harris

Utah’s trigger law will ban most abortions

Some health and legal experts in Utah are struggling to determine what exceptions to an abortion ban in the state actually mean.
2 days ago
juul e-cigarette ban...
Becky Bruce

Utah pulmonologist applauds FDA ban on Juul e-cigarettes

A Utah pulmonologist believes the FDA specifically targeted Juul for the ban because of their past marketing tactics that may have appealed to kids.
3 days ago
people on treadmills...
Waverly Golden

The most popular workout in Utah

A fitness website called Barbend found each state's favorite workout and what pet peeves people at the gym typically have.
3 days ago
students stand on one leg during a yoga class for stress relief...
Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan: How to predict if you’re going to die

A new test could tell you about your life expectancy. If you're over 50 years old, you'll want to try it. All you need is your leg.
3 days ago
A sign reading "immunizations" hangs over a desk. COVID-19 vaccines Utah...
Samantha Herrera

Where to find a COVID-19 vaccine provider for children 5 and under in Utah

COVID-19 vaccines are now available for children as young as 6 months old, but where can you find a vaccine provider for your child in Utah?
3 days ago
FILE - This Dec. 20, 2018, file photo shows a Juul electronic cigarette starter kit at a smoke shop...
MATTHEW PERRONE, AP Health Writer

FDA bans Juul e-cigarettes tied to teen vaping surge

The announcement Thursday by the FDA is part of a sweeping regulatory review of e-cigarettes, which faced little regulation until recently.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
Follow @ikeyospe...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
Heart study: Low- and regular-dose aspirin safe, effective