Researchers are urging doctors to prescribe aspirin more widely for heart attack and stroke survivors following a study showing aspirin can cut the risk of a second heart attack or stroke by 25 percent.
The study analyzed data from 200 experimental trials of aspirin involving 100,000 patients and demonstrated conclusively that aspirin dramatically lowers the risk of a second heart attack or stroke, its authors said Wednesday."This is one of the most well-worked out areas in medicine," Richard Peto of Oxford University said at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology. "The curse is that the drug is so bloody cheap that nobody takes it seriously."
Researchers do not know how widely aspirin is used by heart attack and stroke survivors, but Peto said, "Routine practice in many areas is the exact opposite of what patients need. The patients aren't getting protected."
Peto said his study suggests that half an aspirin a day will save 10,000 lives annually among every 1 million Americans treated.
It will also prevent an additional 10,000 non-fatal strokes and heart attacks, which are among the leading causes of disability, he said.
"I completely agree with what's been said," said Dr. Eugene Passamani, director of heart disease research at the government's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.