A study aimed at settling a long-standing question among doctors has found that aspirin works just as well as Warfarin, in helping most patients avoid recurrent strokes. Many doctors suspected that Warfarin was more effective but that aspirin was safer. This study challenges both views, showing the two drugs are equals in both respects.
Both drugs slow clotting of the blood, and blood clots are involved in the final stages of the most common type of stroke due to blockage of the vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain. Aspirin affects the blood platelets, while warfarin inhibits circulating clotting proteins in the blood. Aspirin has been used for over 100 years, but its beneficial effects to prevent stroke and heart attack only started to be recognized in the 1970s. Coumadin, known generically as warfarin, has been used for about 50 years to combat stroke.
Numerous previous studies have proven that use of aspirin reduces recurrent stroke by about 25 percent. Part of the controversy about aspirin versus warfarin for stroke prevention has been the thinking among clinicians that warfarin may be a better blood thinner than aspirin to prevent almost all forms of stroke, but that it has greater side effects, increased risk of hemorrhage, and higher costs.