In a new study, researchers found that low-dose aspirin strongly lowers heart disease risk but increases the risk of bleeding.
The research was conducted by a team at Anglia Ruskin University.
The team did the review because the overall balance between risks and benefits of taking aspirin has been unclear.
They pooled information from analyses of all relevant observational studies and randomized controlled trials.
The results showed that the use of low-dose aspirin in people without heart disease was linked to a 17% lower incidence of cardiovascular events (such as non-fatal heart attacks, non-fatal strokes, or cardiovascular-related deaths).
In addition, low-dose aspirin use was linked to a 47% higher risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and a 34% higher risk of intracranial bleeding.
The team says these risks and benefits need to be weighted in formal decision analyses to guide aspirin use in primary prevention.
They note that although many dozens of health effects besides heart disease and bleeding have been assessed, evidence for these remains weak and therefore should not be a major consideration when deciding whether to use low-dose aspirin.
The lead author of the study is Lee Smith, MSc, Ph.D. from Anglia Ruskin University.
The study is published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
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