Discontinuation of low-dose aspirin therapy may increase the risk of stroke in patients with cardiovascular disease or cerebrovascular disease. Aspirin, the common pain reliever is also known as acetylsalicylic acid (ASA). Low dose aspirin is known to prevent heart attack or stroke. Patients with cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease benefit from aspirin therapy.
The latest findings published in the journal Neurology say that stroke risk is elevated by 40% in patients with cardiovascular disease or cerebrovascular disease who discontinue long-term ASA treatment. The risk is much higher during the first six months. Data from the Health Improvement Network UK database. 39,512 patients, aged 50-84 years who were given a first prescription for low-dose ASA between 2000 and 2007 for secondary prevention were included in the study.
AdvertisementAspirin modifies the body's blood clotting mechanism. It reduces the clumping of blood cells called platelets and thus slows the blood's clotting action. By preventing or reducing blood clots, aspirin prevents a first or second heart attack. Similar effects extend to protection against stroke and Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA is colloquially referred to as a mini stroke that lasts for less than 24 hours). Aspirin should however be taken based on a doctor's advice owing to the potential side effects. Wrong usage can precipitate unwanted side effects like stomach bleeding and bleeding in the brain. It may also trigger asthma in some people who are sensitive to the drug. Doctor himself should hence adjust the timing and dosage of the drug.
Patients who discontinue the treatment prematurely are putting themselves at risk of ischemic events, i.e. the outcome of compromised blood circulation to vital organs. The study had particularly evaluated the risks for ischemic strokes and TIAs. A 40% risk of stroke was attached to discontinuation. The results of the study call in for better adherence to low-dose ASA. Doctors should bear the responsibility of educating patients about the importance of staying on to low-dose aspirin medications.
Source: Increased risk of stroke after discontinuation of acetylsalicylic acid. - Neurology February 22, 2011 vol. 76 no. 8 740-746.