SATURDAY, March 24, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Low-dose aspirin therapy may be as effective as high-dose therapy in preventing blood clots, while reducing the risk of bleeding in heart patients who've had treatments such as angioplasty or stenting, Canadian researchers say.
The patients included in the study had what doctors call "acute coronary syndromes" (ACS) -- a group of symptoms linked to chest pain caused by arterial damage. These patients are at high risk for heart attack.
Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, compared the safety and efficacy of varying doses of aspirin -- low (less than 100 mg); intermediate (101 to 199 mg); and high (more than 200 mg) -- in 2,658 patients with ACS undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). PCI involves procedures such as angioplasty with or without the placement of artery-opening stents.
At 30 days and eight months after the procedure, all the patients had similar rates of cardiovascular death, heart attack and stroke. While rates of major bleeding were similar among all groups after 30 days, the rate of major bleeding in the low-dose aspirin group was noticeably reduced after eight months.
"In this large observational analysis, low-dose ASA (aspirin) appeared to be just as effective as high-dose ASA in preventing recurrent cardiac events in ACS patients after PCI, while reducing the long-term risk of major bleeding," lead author Sanjit Jolly said in a prepared statement.
"These data are intriguing, since low-dose aspirin is most commonly prescribed in Europe, but, in the United States, higher doses are most commonly used. Our data suggest that lower doses may be safer, but this finding needs confirmation in a dedicated randomized trial," principal investigator Dr. Shamir R. Mehta, associate professor of medicine, said in a prepared statement.
The findings were expected to be presented Saturday at the American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session in New Orleans.
The American Heart Association has more about PCI.