Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Aspirin can help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, but it also increases major bleeding in patients who use it regularly, a new study says.
Participants with no history of cardiovascular disease who took aspirin saw their risk of a cardiovascular event fall by 11 percent -- but their chances of having a major bleeding event shot up by 43 percent -- according to the results of a 5-year study published Tuesday in the JAMA.
"This study demonstrates that there is insufficient evidence to recommend routine aspirin use in the prevention of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths in people without cardiovascular disease," Sean Zheng, Academic Clinical Fellow in Cardiology at King's College London, said in a news release.
Although aspirin has a reputation for lowering the risk for stroke and heart attack, some studies contradict that idea.
"There has been more uncertainty surrounding what should be done in patients who are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and in patients with diabetes. This study shows that while cardiovascular events may be reduced in these patients, these benefits are matched by an increased risk of major bleeding events," Zheng said.
Some research questions whether taking aspirin regularly carries any benefit at all. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that taking a daily low-dose aspirin does nothing to extend the life span of older adults.
Another study reported that people with risk factors for a heart attack or stroke aren't likely to benefit from an aspirin regime either.
"Aspirin use requires discussion between the patient and their physician, with the knowledge that any small potential cardiovascular benefits are weighed up against the real risk of severe bleeding," Zheng said.