A recent study suggests that taking a low dose of aspirin every day does not prevent the most common type of stroke among older individuals who have never had a stroke before. In fact, the study found that this practice may actually increase the risk of a dangerous brain bleed. The research adds to existing evidence that prescribing aspirin to individuals who do not need it may not be beneficial.
As people age, their chances of developing blood clots increase, which could potentially lead to an ischaemic stroke. To counter this risk, doctors sometimes prescribe a low dose of aspirin, as it thins the blood. However, the study conducted by John McNeil at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, found that even at low doses, aspirin does not reduce the risk of an ischaemic stroke.
The study involved 19,114 participants, with the majority being at least 70 years old and living in Australia. None of the participants had a history of stroke or other cardiovascular conditions at the start of the study. Roughly half of the participants took 100 milligrams of aspirin every day, while the other half took a placebo.
The results showed that 1.5% of those taking low-dose aspirin experienced an ischaemic stroke, compared to 1.7% in the placebo group. This suggests that aspirin did not reduce the risk of stroke. Additionally, 1.1% of those taking aspirin experienced bleeding inside or around the brain, compared to 0.8% in the placebo group. This highlights the potential risks of aspirin, as intracranial bleeding can be more fatal than an ischaemic stroke.
It is important to note that these findings only apply to individuals with no history of cardiovascular conditions. For those with such conditions, low-dose aspirin may still be beneficial in reducing the risk of strokes.
As always, it is recommended to consult with a doctor before starting or changing any medications.