Aspirin trial extended


A landmark study tracking the effects of low-dose aspirin on the health of older people has been extended for five years

Researchers at Monash University and the US-based Berman Center for Outcomes and Clinical Research, part of the Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute, are expanding on the landmark aspirin trial, ASPREE, with a five-year follow up study to investigate the long-term effects of low dose aspirin on the health of older people.

The trial has involved more than 19,000 patients in Australia and the US.

In 2018, results showed that a 100mg dose of aspirin daily did not prolong life free of disability, and did not significantly reduce the risk of a first heart attack or stroke among healthy participants.

However they did show a slight increase in serious bleeding: up 3.8% in the aspirin group and 2.8% in the placebo group.

At the time, the AMA’s Dr Tony Bartone warned consumers not to stop taking the medication without first speaking to their prescriber.

Now, the ASPREE-XT (eXTension) study is set to track the health of more than 15,000 participants in Australia and the US, following an average period of almost five years on daily low dose aspirin or a placebo tablet in the ASPREE trial.

Researchers plan to assess health impacts after prolonged aspirin use on cancer, dementia, cardiovascular health, physical disability, depression and other aspects of ageing including frailty.

ASPREE-XT also aims to identify the impact that medical conditions, lifestyle, the environment and genetics have on health and ageing, providing an unprecedented window into an ageing population.

Principal investigator in Australia, Professor John McNeil, of Monash University’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, said ASPREE-XT will contribute high quality research to understand factors that affect quality of life and independence for older people.

“ASPREE-XT builds on many millions of individual items of health data collected in the ASPREE study, providing a rare opportunity to investigate the effects of aspirin and other factors on the health of older people,” Professor McNeil said.

“Importantly, ASPREE-XT will also help identify factors that contribute to onset of disease in older people and explain why some people become frail and disabled while others do not.”

Professor McNeil said ASPREE-XT will be one of the largest observational studies conducted in Australia with the help of over 2000 general practitioners across south-eastern Australia.

“Life expectancy has increased globally and ASPREE-XT will continue to answer questions of daily relevance for GPs caring for their older patients,” Professor McNeil said.

“The collection of this important health information is of great benefit to society, and through ASPREE-XT we are grateful that our participants continue to contribute data.”

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