Aspirin Therapy Benefits More People Than Thought

Those with heart disease risk of 7.5 percent or more are helped, study finds

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TUESDAY, March 7, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Taking aspirin to prevent coronary artery disease is beneficial for more men than previously thought.

The finding, reported by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers, appears in the March 7 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The researchers reviewed data from previous studies and found that, compared to no treatment, taking aspirin was less costly and more effective for preventing heart attacks and other coronary events in men whose 10-year risk for heart disease was 7.5 percent or more.

Prior to this finding, it was felt that aspirin was only beneficial in men whose 10-year risk for heart disease was 10 percent or greater.

"Our analysis suggests that is also beneficial for men between 5 percent and 10 percent risk," study author Dr. Michael Pignone, an associate professor of medicine, said in a prepared statement.

The study received funding from Bayer Healthcare.

The researchers also concluded that aspirin therapy was not effective for men with a risk lower than 5 percent, because the risk of adverse effects from gastrointestinal bleeding nullified the cardiovascular benefit.

"There are patients at higher risk for coronary heart disease who aren't getting aspirin therapy who could benefit, and there are also those at lower risk who are taking aspirin but shouldn't be," Pignone said.

He and his colleagues also concluded that adding a cholesterol-lowering statin drug to aspirin therapy is only cost-effective when the patient's 10-year risk for heart disease is higher than 10 percent.

"People should find out their cardiovascular risk, and make decisions about preventive treatment based on that risk," Pignone said.

More information

UpToDate has more about aspirin and cardiovascular disease.

SOURCE: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, news release, March 6, 2006

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