Low-dose aspirin linked to increased anemia risk in older adults

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A new study analyzing the ASPREE (ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly) trial has raised concerns about the use of low-dose aspirin in older adults.

Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the research suggests that older individuals who take aspirin daily may face a higher risk of developing anemia.

Key Insights from the Study

The ASPREE trial involved 19,114 participants aged 70 or older, who were randomly assigned to either a daily dose of 100 mg of aspirin or a placebo.

Researchers kept a close eye on changes in hemoglobin levels, an indicator of anemia, and ferritin levels, which reflect iron in the blood.

Findings: Aspirin’s Impact on Blood Health

The study found that about 23.5% of those taking aspirin developed anemia, which is a significant increase compared to those not taking the drug.

Participants on aspirin also showed a noticeable decrease in ferritin levels, suggesting a drop in blood iron.

Understanding the Risks

Bleeding vs. Anemia: While the risk of major bleeding from aspirin, like gastrointestinal bleeding, is well-known, this study sheds light on a less discussed side effect – anemia.

Occult Blood Loss: The decline in iron levels and anemia among those taking aspirin could be due to occult (hidden) blood loss, not just overt bleeding events.

Recommendations for Older Adults on Aspirin

Given these findings, the study suggests that older adults on aspirin should have their hemoglobin levels checked periodically.

While aspirin can offer certain health benefits, this research emphasizes the need for a cautious approach, especially regarding potential side effects like anemia.


This analysis of the ASPREE trial highlights a significant concern about the use of low-dose aspirin among the elderly. With a noted increase in anemia risk, it underlines the importance of regular monitoring for those on aspirin therapy.

This study provides valuable information for healthcare providers and patients to make informed decisions about aspirin use in older age.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about Why light-to-moderate drinking is linked to better heart health and findings of Reconsidering the long-term use of high blood pressure beta blockers after a heart attack.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about new way to halt excessive inflammation, and results showing foods that could cause inflammation.

The research findings can be found in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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