Twenty-five years ago, a study claimed that heart problems could be avoided by taking tablets designed for mild pain relief
Men with outwardly healthy hearts can cut the future risk of heart attacks by 47 per cent if they take an aspirin every two days, a United States study claims today.
Advance word of its publication in the New England Journal of Medicine brought warnings from specialists about the danger to stomach linings of a rush to the aspirin bottle by either sex.
Work in Europe and the US over the past two years has commended aspirin as an anti-blood clotting agent for heart and stroke sufferers. Advice on dosage went as high as three tablets a day in a Finnish study in April.
The new study – the biggest of its kind – is the first to speak confidently of ‘an extreme beneficial effect’ when apparently healthy people take the tablets.
More than 22,000 male physicians were tested by a team at Harvard medical school and a Boston hospital.
No detailed figures were released yesterday, but results showed a 47 per cent drop in heart attacks or strokes among people who had not suffered heart trouble when the research started and who took aspirins once every two days.
Dr Lawrence Cohen, of Yale medical school, said: ‘There will be many thousands of people whose heart attacks will be prevented by this medical intervention.’
Dr Cohen said all men aged between 35 and 70 should take aspirin, regardless of their risk factors, as long as the drug did not cause gastro-intestinal upset or bleeding.
He said women should use aspirin if they had some risk factor for heart attack, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes or a family history of heart attacks.
Dr William Castelli, director of the US Framingham Heart Study, said only men and women with heart risk should consider regular aspirin use.
Anybody who found the range of their blood pressure exceeded 90/140 or that their total cholesterol was much over 200 ought to think about taking an aspirin every other day, Dr Castelli said.
Dr Claude Lenfant, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, agreed people with heart risk factors should be considered for aspirins, but said they should discuss use of the drug with their doctors