GAINESVILLE — For decades, aspirin has been widely used to reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems. Now, a team led by a University of Florida Health researcher has found that aspirin may provide little or no benefit for certain patients who have plaque buildup in their arteries.
The researchers tracked the health histories of more than 33,000 patients with atherosclerosis — narrowed, hardened arteries — and determined that aspirin is marginally beneficial for those who have had a previous heart attack, stroke or other blood-flow issues involving arteries. However, among atherosclerosis patients with no prior heart attack or stroke, aspirin had no apparent benefit.
The findings were published May 18 in the journal Clinical Cardiology.
Because the findings are observational, further study that includes clinical trials are needed before definitively declaring that aspirin has little or no effect on certain atherosclerosis patients, said Dr. Anthony Bavry, an associate professor in the UF College of Medicine’s department of medicine and a cardiologist at the Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Gainesville.
Bavry said the findings do not undercut aspirin’s vital role in more immediate situations: If a heart attack or stroke is underway or suspected, patients should still take aspirin as a treatment measure.
And people who had a coronary bypass or stent but no history of stroke, heart attack or arterial blood-flow condition should clearly stay on an aspirin regimen, Bavry said.
Bavry said discerning aspirin’s effectiveness for various patients is important because aspirin can create complications, including gastrointestinal bleeding and, less frequently, bleeding in the brain.
In April, the group had a study published that showed aspirin may not provide cardiovascular benefits for people with peripheral vascular disease, which causes narrowed arteries and reduced blood flow to the…
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