NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In people with stable heart
disease, low-dose aspirin reduces the occurrence of heart
attacks, strokes, and deaths from all causes, according to a
Although aspirin also increases the risk of bleeding, the
benefits outweigh the risk, lead author Dr. Jeffrey S. Berger,
of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, Durham, North
Carolina, and his associates conclude in their report in the
American Journal of Medicine.
Unlike previous analyses that combined various populations
with treated with different blood-thinning drugs and dosages,
the researchers point out, "our study focuses on low-dose
aspirin in a population with stable cardiovascular disease."
Berger's group identified six clinical trials that included
nearly 10,000 patients with stable heart-related chest pain or
a history of heart attack, stroke, or mini-stroke.
Compared to inactive placebo treatment, aspirin therapy was
associated with a 13 percent reduction in the odds of dying
during follow-up, a 26 percent reduction in the odds of a
non-fatal heart attack, and a 25 percent reduction in the odds
In a subgroup analysis, low doses of aspirin (50 to 100
milligrams per day) were shown to be as effective as a higher
dose (300 milligrams per day).
Although long-term aspirin therapy doubled the risk of
major bleeding, Berger's group notes that the absolute risk was
They calculate that among 1000 patients, low-dose aspirin
would prevent approximately 33 heart attacks or stroke and 14
deaths, and cause approximately 9 episodes of serious bleeding
-- a worthwhile trade-off.
SOURCE: American Journal of Medicine, January 2008.