In short Article

Acetyl salicylic acid for healthy elderly people?


Medicinal intervention can be an option to help people age in good health and prevent future diseases. This is why the use of low-dose acetylsalicylic acid, which is known for its cardiovascular protective effect, has been studied among healthy elderly people without cardiovascular diseases. This research did not find any increase in life expectancy, nor did the treatment postpone the onset of dementia or physical impairments hampering the activities of daily life. No future cardiovascular benefit could be proven, whereas, as expected, the risk of haemorrhage was increased. Hence, there is no place for the preventive use of acetylsalicylic acid by healthy elderly people, which is in line with the current European and Dutch guidelines.

  • According to the study discussed here, the preventive use of acetylsalicylic acid does not increase the life expectancy of elderly people who have no cardiovascular disease. Nor does its use delay the onset of physical problems hampering the activities of daily life or dementia.
  • The risk of cardiovascular morbidity or mortality does not appear to be reduced by the use of acetylsalicylic acid, although the study was not designed to prove this.
  • The increased risk of cancer-related mortality found in this study contradicts previous research findings and may have been an artefact.
  • European and Dutch guidelines rightly do not recommend the preventive use of acetylsalicylic acid by healthy elderly people. The results of the study discussed here confirm this.
  • The use of acetylsalicylic acid by healthy elderly people aged 70 and over should not be recommended, as it does not offer any benefits and carries the risk of adverse effects, especially that of serious haemorrhage.

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The literature refers to the Dutch text

Authors

  • dr A.J.F.A. Kerst