Millions of pensioners prescribed a daily aspirin raise their chances of a heart attack or stroke by more than a third if they quit taking the pill, a study has found.
The body can suffer a ‘rebound effect’ following a sudden withdrawal, causing clots in vessels that supply blood to the heart or brain, experts say.
Not continuing with the blood-thinning medication raises the risk of cardiovascular events by 37 per cent.
Roughly 40 to 60 per cent of adults aged 75 or older in the US or Europe take daily aspirin or other antiplatelet drugs to prevent heart attacks or stroke.
The findings offer a stark warning since up to half of those prescribed a dose of aspirin each day fail to carry on taking it, researchers believe.
A Swedish study has found quitting taking aspirin raises the risk of a heart attack or stroke by 37 per cent (stock photo)
Professor Johan Sundstrom, who led the study, said: ‘Low-dose aspirin therapy is a simple and inexpensive treatment.
‘As long as there’s no bleeding or any major surgery scheduled our research shows the significant public health benefits that can be gained when patients stay on aspirin therapy.’
TYPE 2 DIABETICS SHOULD TAKE ASPIRIN TWICE A DAY
Taking aspirin twice a day may help protect people with type 2 diabetes from suffering a heart attack or stroke, new research reveals.
When taken the recommended once a day, patients suffer an increased risk of blood clotting between doses, a study found. Blood clots can lead to cardiovascular disease (CVD), such as heart attacks and stroke.
Researchers advise patients have the drug twice over 24 hours to reduce their likelihood of suffering ‘clumps’ between administrations.
Study author Dr Liv Vernstroem from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, said: ‘Given that platelets in people with diabetes are characterised by increased aggregation and increased turnover rates, our study indicates that patients with type 2 diabetes may achieve additional benefit from twice daily rather than once daily dosing of aspirin.’
CVD is the leading cause of illness and death in people with type 2 diabetes.
A team from Uppsala University followed more than 600,000 Swedish patients who took low doses for heart attack and stroke prevention for four-and-a-half years.
The participants were over 40 with an even split among the sexes. Their average age was 73 and each took around half a tablet daily with an adherence rate of 80 per cent in the first year.
In three years of follow-up there were 62,690 heart attacks and strokes among patients.
The researchers found one out of every 74 patients who stopped taking aspirin had one such additional event each year.
This rate was 37 per cent higher among those who stopped taking aspirin compared to those who continued.
The researchers found an elevated risk of heart attack and stroke that increased shortly after discontinuation of therapy which ‘did not appear to diminish over time’.
The British Heart Foundation said this underlines the importance of patients sticking to their medications.
Associate medical director Dr Mike Knapton said: ‘It’s been known for some time, in part due to BHF research, that aspirin is an effective drug for reducing your risk of heart attack.
‘But for the medications to work, it’s vitally important that people take them.
‘This study clearly demonstrates the importance of taking your medications regularly.
‘Discontinuing aspirin, despite medical advice, can increase your risk of cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, by a shocking 30 per cent.
‘Thanks to research, pioneering drugs like aspirin are available to us.
‘If prescribed, your GP or pharmacy will be able to advise you on how to take them, or offer you alternative options if you have side effects.’