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Entries in aspirin (8)

Wednesday
Dec052012

Coated Aspirin May Lose Heart Benefits

Amazon(NEW YORK) -- Coated aspirin may lose some of its cardiovascular benefits because it takes longer for the drug to dissolve into the bloodstream, a new study suggested.

The study of 400 healthy volunteers was designed to uncover whether certain people were resistant to aspirin's blood-thinning effects. Millions of men and women take aspirin daily to prevent blood clots that cause heart attacks and strokes.

Instead, the authors from the University of Pennsylvania pointed to the stomach-soothing coating sometimes applied to aspirin as a culprit.

The results were published Tuesday in the journal Circulation.

Brand-name aspirin maker Bayer, which partially funded the study, took issue with some of the conclusions.

"The authors' suggestion that use of enteric coated aspirin should be questioned, based on these study results, is of concern given the study population and methodology used, neither of which reflect real-world clinical use," spokeswoman Anne Coiley said in a statement to ABC News.

For people with a high risk of heart attack or stroke, studies suggest an aspirin a day can cut the risk.

If a person is experiencing a heart attack, it is believed chewing an aspirin can buy time by thinning the blood while help is on the way.

"Chew the aspirin, don't just swallow it," said ABC News senior health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser. "You need that anti-clotting effect in your bloodstream as quickly as possible. If you have uncoated aspirin, that's best. If not, take a coated aspirin. But remember: Chew it, don't swallow it."

Whether you take aspirin to ease a headache or to help fend off heart disease, uncoated pills dissolve faster in your stomach.

While coated aspirin takes longer to dissipate, mostly in your lower digestive tract after it leaves your stomach, it does mean fewer stomach ulcers and less stomach upset -- good for people with sensitive stomachs.

"But for primary prevention of heart attack and strokes, I agree with the study findings, and it is very interesting to see this and be aware of this," said Dr. Martha Gulati, associate professor of medicine in at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.

Daily aspirin -- coated or not -- can help prevent heart disease, Besser said. He encouraged people at risk to carry the drug at all times.

"You can even get one of these key-ring gizmos so that you have an aspirin with you all the time," he said. "My dad carries one of these."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec052012

Coated Pills May Limit Benefits of Aspirin, Study Finds

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Doctors and drug makers agree: taking an aspirin regularly can help fight heart attacks.  But what's on the outside of that aspirin could make a difference, a new study suggests.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania say if you need aspirin -- because you've had a heart attack, blocked arteries or other complications -- you're better off taking a pill that's not coated.

Coated aspirin, which is designed to prevent stomach ulcers, takes longer to dissolve.  That means it could take your blood longer to get circulating in a way that helps your heart.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun052012

Aspirin Bleeding Risks Outweigh Benefits

Lauren Nicole/Digital Vision(NEW YORK) -- For years, the advice for preventing heart disease has been simple: take an aspirin every day; it can't hurt. But new research suggests that patients taking the pills and doctors prescribing them may need to think twice about that advice.

The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that taking 300 milligrams or less of aspirin increases the risk of major stomach or brain bleeding by 55 percent, greater than previous research has suggested.

Italian researchers studied more than 370,000 hospitalized patients, looking for differences in how aspirin affects patients with diabetes and those without. But their findings apply to millions of people hoping to prevent heart problems with aspirin.

Of the more than 186,000 participants taking a daily dose of aspirin, researchers counted nearly 2,300 cases of gastrointestinal bleeding and nearly 1,300 cases of brain bleeding.

Dr. Antonio Nicolucci, one of the study's authors, said the results show that the risks of bleeding are much higher than what doctors had previously suspected after several clinical trials and should prompt doctors to carefully consider a patient's individual health before prescribing aspirin.

"If the risk of having a cardiovascular event is low, then the risk of bleeding will likely offset any beneficial effect of aspirin," he said.

Doctors have known for years that aspirin increases the risk of bleeding. But many say the study highlights the issue of calculating risks and benefits of any medical treatment, even one as seemingly harmless as taking an aspirin a day.

"No preventive approach is without risk," said Dr. Thomas Schwenk, dean of the University of Nevada School of Medicine. "If the benefits are barely measurable but the risks are real and possibly greater, then the decision making may shift against the use of aspirin."

For people with a history of heart attacks or stroke, doctors agree that taking aspirin is a key part of preventing a second problem. The American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force all recommend a daily, low dose of aspirin for people who are at a 20-percent increased risk of heart problems. The benefits of preventing a second heart attack outweigh the risks of bleeding for most people.

In an editorial about the study, Dr. Jolanta Siller-Matula, of the Medical University of Vienna, put the numbers this way: for a group of 10,000 patients taking aspirin to prevent a second heart attack or stroke, data suggest the pill would prevent about 250 heart problems but would cause about 40 cases of brain bleeding.

"Thus the net benefit of aspirin for secondary prevention would substantially exceed the bleeding hazard," she wrote.

But the issue gets murkier for those at lower risk of heart disease, such as people who have some risk factors but have never had a heart attack. Siller-Matula wrote that for 10,000 of those patients, aspirin would be expected to prevent seven heart attacks or strokes, but cause problems in another four patients.

"When the cardiovascular risk is low, the adverse effects of aspirin overwhelm any benefit," said Dr. Steve Nissen, chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. "Unfortunately, many patients taking aspirin represent the 'worried well' rather than individuals with a high risk of coronary artery disease."

Doctors say patients should talk with their physicians about their risks and how taking an aspirin may benefit or harm them. For many, dealing with stomach bleeding may be better than having a heart attack. Dr. Gerard Mullin, an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, noted that for patients who would benefit from daily aspirin, stomach bleeding can be fairly easily controlled with drugs called proton pump inhibitors, which protect the lining of the stomach. But of course, prescribing the PPIs for too many people would create a separate set of problems.

"We need to identify those patients who would benefit most by the use of drugs rather than generalize," Mullin said.

Dr. Scott Nelson, a family physician in Mississippi, said he has always been a "strong believer" of the value of using aspirin for prevention in his patients.

"I may now re-think my position on 'blanket' prescribing of aspirin to all of my at-risk patients and pay more attention to the overall risk-benefit picture," Nelson said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar202012

Can an Aspirin a Day Keep Cancer Away?

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A daily aspirin may cut your risk of cancer, new research suggests. But doctors advise that there's no reason for everyone to start taking it -- at least not yet.

In three studies published in the Lancet and the Lancet Oncology on Tuesday, British researchers analyzed data from more than 50 studies and found that those who took daily aspirin for at least three years were less likely to develop cancer -- and if they did, it tended to be less advanced. Patients who took daily aspirin were 36 percent less likely to be diagnosed with metastatic cancer, or cancer that had already spread throughout their body.

Additionally, individuals taking aspirin for five years or more were 15 percent less likely to die from cancer. Previous research had only shown such benefits for patients taking aspirin for longer periods of time.

Nowhere was the evidence stronger than it was for colon cancer. Researchers found that patients who were diagnosed with localized colon cancer while taking daily aspirin halved the chance that their disease would spread.

Aspirin is a relatively inexpensive and easy-to-take medication that millions of Americans already use. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends men between the ages of 45 and 79 take aspirin daily to prevent heart disease, and they also recommend that women aged 55 to 79 take a daily aspirin to ward off stroke. The notion that this same medication may be able to prevent cancer is significant.

Cancer experts contacted by ABC News said they are excited about what these findings might mean for future research and treatment.

"This is very encouraging information," says Dr. Roy Herbst, Chief of Medical Oncology for the Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, Conn. "It suggests that aspirin could play a very important role in cancer prevention."

"I am intrigued by the consistency of the findings and this is something that can be implemented quickly that people are not opposed to," said Dr. Kristen Moysich, professor of oncology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. "It is an easy thing to do."

But precisely how patients might benefit from aspirin has yet to be fully understood, doctors say.

"No one knows exactly what the mechanism is of how aspirin helps prevent cancer," said Asad Umar, chief of the Gastrointestinal and Other Cancers Research Group of the National Cancer Institute.

Umar said aspirin's anti-inflammatory action might have something to do with the benefits that researchers have seen. Others, like Jay Whelan, suggest aspirin may interfere with the processes in the body that cause tumors to grow.

"Aspirin also probably works in ways that we don't quite understand," said Whelan, who heads the Department of Cellular and Molecular Nutrition at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. "We don't know the mechanism, and it is very difficult to make a blanket public health statement without knowing the mechanism."

"While this backs everything up, I think people should consult their physicians."

The research may not be the last word on aspirin and cancer. Previous studies -- including the large Women's Health Study and the Physicians' Health Study -- have suggested no link between aspirin consumption and reductions in cancer occurrence or cancer-related death. The researchers behind the current study wrote that they excluded these major pieces of research because patients in these studies did not take aspirin on a daily basis.

Even then, the conclusions of the new research do not support a specific dose of aspirin -- so even if there is an effect, those who hope to benefit from it may find themselves at a loss over how much to take.

And although aspirin is a commonly used medicine available over the counter, it is not necessarily safe. People taking aspirin have an increased risk of bleeding, including bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. This can be very dangerous, and the risk of it happening increases with higher doses.

Most agreed that before medical experts can make any concrete recommendations, further study is needed.

"Because these results are new, it will take time for the broader scientific community to evaluate the data in the context of existing knowledge and to consider whether the clinical guidelines should be changed," said Eric Jacobs, strategic director of Pharmaco-Epidemiology at the American Cancer Society, Inc.

"It is important for patients to follow colon cancer guidelines already in place and get their recommended colon cancer screening tests."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct272011

Aspirin Cuts Colorectal Cancer Risk in Lynch Syndrome Patients

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEWCASTLE, England) -- Taking 600 milligrams of aspirin daily cut the risk of colorectal cancer by 44 percent in people at high risk for the disease, a new study found.

The study -- the first clinical trial of its kind -- followed 861 people with Lynch syndrome, a genetic condition that raises the risk of colorectal cancer. Out of 427 patients who took two aspirins a day for two years, 18 went on to develop colorectal cancer compared to 30 of 434 patients who took placebo pills.

The study adds to growing evidence that the drug famous for relieving headaches can help prevent cancer, too.

"Our results, taken in conjunction with recent research, provide a basis for recommendation of aspirin chemoprevention in Lynch syndrome as standard of care," reported John Burn, professor of clinical genetics at Newcastle University in the U.K., and colleagues, in The Lancet.

Some experts think the study's implications extend beyond Lynch syndrome, which causes as much as seven percent of colorectal cancers.

"There's no reason to think the cancers that develop in Lynch syndrome are any different genetically or biologically that those in the general population," said Dr. Scott Lippman, oncologist at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and co-author of a commentary on the study. "This puts it on the radar for people in the general population to discuss with their doctors."

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force already recommends daily low-dose aspirin for healthy men between 45 and 75 and healthy women between 55 and 75 to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.

"Clearly, this is even more incentive for people in that group to take aspirin," said Lippman.

But the drug isn't for everyone. People with ulcers, bleeding disorders, kidney or liver problems should avoid it, as should anyone who might be allergic to it.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul192011

Study: Heart Attack Risk Increases If Patients Stop Taking Aspirin

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(MADRID, Spain) -- Low-dose aspirin is a standard treatment for prevention of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, particularly in people who’ve already suffered heart attacks or strokes, or those with angina, artery disease or abnormal heart rhythms.  

So what happens if a patient stops taking aspirin?  According to a study from the Spanish Centre for Pharmacoepidemiologic Research, patients who recently stopped taking aspirin were at a 43-percent greater risk of a heart attack or heart disease-related death than patients still taking their aspirin.  

Since one of the most common reasons why people stop taking aspirin is simple lack of adherence to the regimen, the author of the accompanying editorial, published in the British Medical Journal, writes that “patients should be advised never to stop aspirin unless explicitly told to do so.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec062010

Daily Aspirin Use May Reduce Cancer-Related Deaths, Researchers Say

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A study released Monday shows that long-term daily aspirin use reduces risk of cancer-related deaths for a number of common cancers such as esophageal, colorectal and lung cancers.  It has been known that taking daily aspirin can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, but this is the first study suggesting that daily aspirin can reduce cancer deaths.

The authors analyzed data from previous studies that evaluated the benefits of aspirin for prevention of cardiovascular disease.  Over 25,000 people and eight different studies were assessed, and the data revealed that those individuals who took aspirin had a 20 percent lower risk of cancer-related death compared to trial participants not taking aspirin.  Aspirin was particularly effective in reducing mortality from adenocarcinomas, which are particular types of cancers found in many tissues.

The beneficial effect of aspirin was apparent only after five years, but increased as time went on.  The benefit was also not dependent on the dose of aspirin.  As the authors themselves state, “These findings have implications for guidelines on use of aspirin," as well as for our understanding of cancer.

As for cancer patients wondering if a daily aspirin is the right option for them, Eric Jacobs, Strategic Director of Pharmacoepidemiology at the American Cancer Society says it may not be for everybody.

“Many people may wonder if they should start taking aspirin tomorrow.  It’s important to first discuss aspirin use with your doctor who knows your personal medical history.  Decisions about aspirin use should be made by balancing the risks against the benefits.  Even low dose aspirin can substantially increase the risk of serious gastrointestinal bleeding,” he said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep212010

Shot of Aspirin: Potential New Treatment for Migraines?

Most headache sufferers have their own tricks for relief, but for more than 29 million migraine sufferers, the agony can be much more difficult to escape. New research suggests aspirin taken intravenously -- a migraine treatment already widely used in Europe -- may be an effective treatment for migraine patients in the U.S. Researchers reviewed records of 168 patients hospitalized in London for chronic daily headaches and were given an average of five doses of intravenous aspirin. Two thirds of the patients reported a decrease in pain following the treatment, according to the study published Monday in the American Academy of Neurology. Aspirin pills are effective in treating acute forms of migraines. A more intense delivery of aspirin through IV injection may provide relief for a more intense type of headache, said Dr. Peter Goadsby, co-author of the study and director of the headache clinic at University of California, San Francisco.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio. Image Courtesy: ABC News







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