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Posted: October 28, 2008

Aspirin Doesn't Cut Heart Attack Risk for Diabetics: Report

While the common aspirin has been hailed as an effective means of helping cut heart attack risk in general, a new report says it is not effective in preventing either heart attack or stroke in people with diabetes or peripheral arterial disease.

An eight-year study of 1,276 patients over age 40 with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, who were randomized to receive either aspirin, an antioxidant, or both, found no benefit from either treatment in the prevention of heart attacks or death.

However, aspirin did reduce the risk in patients with a history of symptomatic heart disease or stroke by a quarter, according to the findings published online in BMJ, the website operated by the British Medical Journal.

Discount Prescriptions
Patients with diabetes are two to five times more likely to suffer from heart disease than the general population, and heart disease is a major cause of death in patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Although there is considerable evidence showing no protective benefit of aspirin in high risk patients without heart disease, guidelines are inconsistent and aspirin is commonly prescribed for the primary prevention of heart disease in patients with diabetes and with peripheral arterial disease.

Dr. Jill Belch, a professor of vascular medicine at the University of Dundee in Scotland, reported that contrary to recommendations made by various medical groups, there was “no evidence to support the use of either aspirin or antioxidants in the primary prevention of cardiovascular events and mortality in people with diabetes.”Click here to find out more!

She did emphasize, however, that aspirin was found to be an effective secondary prevention measure in people with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, and in people who have previously suffered a heart attack or stroke.

“A total of seven well-controlled trials now show that aspirin has no benefit for primary prevention of cardiovascular events, even in people at higher risk,” Belch wrote in the BMJ report.

She added: “Although aspirin is cheap and universally available, practitioners and authors of guidelines need to heed the evidence that aspirin should be prescribed only in patients with established symptomatic cardiovascular disease.”

An accompanying editorial in BMJ, written by Dr. William Hiatt, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, said that, in light of these findings, and the evidence from six other well-controlled trials, the prescribing practice of doctors and international guidelines should be reviewed so that aspirin is only prescribed to patients with established heart and stroke disease.

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