TUESDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- People with heart disease who stop taking their daily low-dose aspirin may put themselves at a greater risk of having a heart attack, a new study finds.
Aspirin taken daily in a low dose (typically between 75 and 300 milligrams) is recommended to help prevent blood clots in patients with heart disease. Yet as many as 50 percent of patients stop taking their aspirin, the researchers noted. This can result in an increased risk of heart problems, but little is known about whether there is an increased risk for heart attack specifically.
The new study suggests heart attack risk does rise when low-dose aspirin is discontinued. Therefore, patients "should be advised that unless there is a high risk of serious bleeding or otherwise recommended by a doctor, aspirin should never be discontinued given its overwhelming benefits," said lead researcher Dr. Luis Garcia Rodriguez, director of the Spanish Center for Pharmacoepidemiologic Research in Madrid.
"Also, patients who need to discontinue aspirin should do so for the minimum time necessary," he added.
The report was published in the July 19 online edition of the BMJ.
For the study, Rodriguez's team collected data on more than 39,500 patients, 50 to 84 years of age, who were part of the Health Improvement Network -- a large database of medical records in the United Kingdom.
Between 2000 and 2007, the patients were prescribed low-dose aspirin (75 to 300 milligrams per day) to prevent heart attack and other cardiac complications.
Over about 3 years of follow-up, Garcia Rodriguez's team found that those who stopped taking aspirin experienced a 60 percent rise in their risk of non-fatal heart attack. That result held true regardless of how long the patients had taken aspirin before they decided to stop.
According to the researchers, the finding translates into f
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