Aspirin is an effective way to prevent potentially deadly blood clot events, find researchers. Low-dose aspirin could thus save the lives of people with a history of blood clot.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney, found that people who have suffered blood clots in the veins of the leg (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) or the lungs (pulmonary embolism or PE) are less likely to suffer a recurrence of the serious blood clots or a heart attack when on low-dose aspirin.
"The results suggest the simple, inexpensive treatment of low-dose aspirin could prevent thousands of patients from experiencing recurrent clots each year and may make substantial healthcare savings in Australia and worldwide," said John Simes, professor at the University of Sydney, The New England Journal of Medicine reports.
Simes, also director of the National Health and Medical Research Council's Clinical Trials Centre at the University of Sydney, said: "These results suggest that aspirin prevents about one third of recurrent blood clot events.
"For every 1,000 patients treated for one year, aspirin can be expected to prevent about 20 to 30 episodes of recurrent major thrombotic events at the cost of about three significant bleeding episodes," added Simes, according to a Sydney statement.
Operating since 2003, the study completed recruitment of 822 participants from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, India and Argentina.
All the participants had previously suffered a DVT or PE that occurred for no particular reason, called 'unprovoked VTE' (venous thromboembolism).
They had completed, on average, six months of anti-coagulant treatment, generally with warfarin. They were randomly allocated to receive either low-dose enteric coated aspirin or a matching placebo.
On average, participants were followed for three years.
Tim Brighton, from Prince of Wales Hospital and principal study investigator, explained: "Aspirin reduces the risk of important blood clotting event including recurrent VTE, myocardial infarction, stroke, or cardiovascular death".
"We now have clear evidence that aspirin is of benefit for patients who are unable or do not wish to continue warfarin in the long term," added Brighton.