Aspirin taken by thousands of patients to thin the blood and ward off strokes could double the risk of a heart attack. PICTURE: Supplied
Aspirin taken by thousands of patients to thin the blood and ward off strokes could double the risk of a heart attack.
A study found that sufferers of atrial fibrillation an irregular heart rate were at higher risk if they took aspirin than other drugs. Researchers examined the records of patients prescribed warfarin, aspirin or a new generation of pills to prevent strokes. Aspirin users were 1.9 times as likely to suffer an acute heart attack as those who took warfarin, one of a class of drugs called vitamin K antagonists.
Dr Leo Stolk, who led the study, said: ‘Treatment with vitamin K antagonists has been the cornerstone for the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation for decades. We identified an increased risk of heart attacks among current and past aspirin users in comparison with vitamin K antagonists.
‘There also exists doubt about the usefulness of aspirin in atrial fibrillation. In new guidelines aspirin is no longer included.’ The paper, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, found a new class of drugs called direct oral anticoagulants were also linked to a doubling in heart attack risk. The study looked at prescription history and heart problems among NHS patients – 15,400 who were users of aspirin, 13,098 of vitamin K, 1,266 of anticoagulants or 382 others who took a mixture.
Those taking anticoagulants were followed for a year while those taking vitamin K and aspirin were tracked for three years. The findings echo NHS guidance in 2015 which said aspirin does more harm than good for atrial fibrillation patients.
Affecting up to thousands of patients the condition causes the heart to beat very fast and irregularly, increasing the risk of stroke and early death.
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