Aspirin can help reduce risk of second heart attack, but study finds less than half of eligible adults take it

For adults who’ve survived a coronary heart assault or stroke, taking aspirin usually might scale back the chance of one other cardiovascular occasion. However a brand new research means that lower than half of those heart problems sufferers world wide are utilizing aspirin to forestall a brand new occasion.

Amongst individuals with a historical past of heart problems who had been surveyed within the new research, solely about 40% reported taking aspirin to forestall one other coronary heart assault, stroke or cardiovascular occasion.

The proportion of sufferers utilizing aspirin to scale back the chance of a secondary occasion assorted by nation, nevertheless, starting from 16.6% in low-income international locations equivalent to Afghanistan, Benin and Ethiopia to 65% in high-income international locations equivalent to Czechia, the UK and the US, in accordance with the research, revealed Tuesday within the medical journal JAMA.

“We had hoped that the rates of aspirin use for secondary prevention would be much higher. Particularly I think, overall, globally, there has been an emphasis on improving cardiovascular health, and one of the efforts is to improve use of some of these evidence-based medications,” mentioned Dr. Sang Gune Yoo, an creator of the research and a heart problems fellow within the cardiovascular division at Washington College Faculty of Medication in St. Louis.

Secondary prevention refers to utilizing aspirin to scale back the chance of a second or extra coronary heart assault or stroke. It’s totally different from main prevention — utilizing aspirin to scale back the chance of a primary coronary heart assault or stroke.

Not like with main prevention, the place the risk-benefit ratio of aspirin is just not as clear, out there analysis on secondary prevention exhibits that the advantages of taking aspirin far outweigh the dangers for individuals who have had a coronary heart assault or stroke.

The World Well being Group has a goal for at the very least 50% of these eligible individuals to obtain some sort of drug remedy and counseling to forestall coronary heart assaults and strokes.

Cardiovascular illnesses are the main reason for dying worldwide, claiming about 18 million lives every year, in accordance with WHO. It’s estimated that greater than 4 in 5 heart problems deaths are attributable to coronary heart assaults and strokes. As a result of aspirin helps skinny the blood, that may assist scale back the chance of blockages within the arteries which will trigger a coronary heart assault or stroke.

“What our study is highlighting is that despite efforts being put in to improve cardiovascular health globally, aspirin continues to be underused in secondary preventions,” Yoo mentioned. “Given that it continues to be the number one cause of mortality, it’s very important that health systems and countries strategize ways to improve uptake of aspirin use as well as other cardiovascular medicines.”

The place aspirin is used

For the brand new research, Yoo and his colleagues from Washington College, the College of Michigan and different establishments world wide analyzed knowledge from 51 international locations the place surveys had been performed between 2013 and 2020. Seven of the surveys had been performed in low-income international locations, 23 in lower-middle-income international locations, 14 in upper-middle-income international locations and 7 in high-income international locations.

The surveys included responses from greater than 124,500 adults ages 40 to 69 who reported their historical past of heart problems and aspirin use. Greater than 10,500 of them reported having heart problems.

When the researchers examined aspirin use amongst individuals with a historical past of cardiovascular issues, they discovered that in low-income international locations, 16.6% had been taking aspirin to forestall one other occasion; in lower-middle-income international locations, it was 24.5%; in upper-middle-income international locations, it was 51.1%; and in high-income international locations, it was 65%.

“To our knowledge, the current study provides the most extensive and updated estimates of the worldwide use of aspirin for secondary prevention of CVD,” the researchers wrote, utilizing the abbreviation for heart problems.

“Our findings revealed marked inequities worldwide, as illustrated by 4-fold greater aspirin use for secondary CVD prevention in high-income compared with low-income countries,” they wrote. “None of the 30 low-income or lower-middle-income countries in our sample achieved the WHO target that at least 50% of eligible individuals with a history of CVD take aspirin. Only about half of upper-middle-income and high-income countries included in our analysis achieved this target.”

Yoo mentioned that the research didn’t analyze why there have been such variations within the low use of aspirin, and he mentioned extra analysis is required to find out whether or not it’s associated to entry, to suppliers not recommending aspirin or different elements.

Amongst individuals with a historical past of heart problems, there was extra aspirin use in those that had been older, who had been male, who had increased ranges of training and who lived in city areas, the researchers discovered.

The researchers say their findings recommend that aspirin is underused as a reasonable instrument for the secondary prevention of heart problems occasions globally. In the USA, low-dose aspirin is out there over-the-counter and may price as little as $5 to $10.

Who ought to take aspirin?

“We live in a time where we have incredible, well-established therapies that are effective at reducing the risk of cardiovascular events, and despite the plethora of evidence supporting its use, we suboptimally use many lifesaving medicines. And this is just one example,” mentioned Dr. Jeffrey Berger, director of the Middle for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Illness at NYU Langone Coronary heart in New York, who was not concerned within the new research.

He added that many individuals with heart problems who may gain advantage from common train and a nutritious diet additionally don’t adhere to these practices, simply as they might not take aspirin for secondary prevention.

“Aspirin has been around for more than a century. It has been shown to be effective at lowering the risk of a cardiovascular event by close to 40 years, over four decades or so. I think people forget about the overwhelming data supporting its use,” mentioned Berger, who can be an affiliate professor on the NYU Grossman Faculty of Medication.

“Unfortunately, there is sometimes a misunderstanding of patients and health care providers,” he mentioned. “I think there is a lot of uncertainty over who should be on aspirin for the prevention of a first heart attack or stroke.”

The US Preventive Companies Activity Power recommends towards adults 60 and older beginning on low-dose aspirin for the first prevention of heart problems, and for individuals ages 40 to 59 who’ve a ten% or higher threat of heart problems over 10 years, it leaves the choice as much as medical doctors and sufferers. However that’s a lot totally different from somebody who has a historical past of heart problems taking aspirin to forestall a second coronary heart assault or stroke.

“Aspirin is a double edge sword,” Dr. Erin Michos, affiliate director of preventive cardiology at Johns Hopkins Medication in Baltimore, wrote in an electronic mail.

“It can reduce the risk of thrombosis but this comes at the expense of increased risk of bleeding, so it has a narrower therapeutic window. A delicate balance between thrombosis risk and bleeding risk,” mentioned Michos, who was not concerned within the new research.

“People who have already had a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack, coronary revascularization or stroke are at greater risk for a recurrent vascular event, so they are at higher vascular risk and thus derive a greater net benefit from aspirin,” she mentioned.

For somebody who doesn’t have heart problems, absolutely the dangers of vascular occasions like coronary heart assault or stroke are decrease, however the dangers of bleeding are nonetheless comparable.

So for many wholesome adults who would take aspirin for main prevention, “aspirin might cause more harm than benefit,” Michos mentioned. “However it seems from the current article that worldwide, aspirin is still sorely underutilized in secondary prevention, particularly in low-income countries.”

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