8 March 2002 News Update
HOW ASPIRIN COULD BE BETTER USED
Aspirin, known to prevent heart attacks and strokes in thousands of people at high risk of cardiovascular disease, is still massively under-used according to a new United Kingdom study.
Previous surveys show that aspirin (and other antiplatelet drugs) could prevent about 100,000 premature deaths worldwide every year, including at least 7,000 annually in the UK alone.
The latest report from the Antithrombotic Trialists' Collaboration funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) strengthens and extends the evidence but states that in the UK and the United States, fewer than half of patients with high-risk conditions are prescribed aspirin.
The largest international overview of disease treatment involving more than 200,000 patients in 300 clinical trials was coordinated by scientists from Oxford University's Clinical Trial Service Unit.
Dr Colin Baigent, the MRC scientist who led the research, said the study shows that aspirin is beneficial in an even wider range of conditions than previously believed. He believes that prescribers now need to ensure that aspirin, or some other antiplatelet drug, is routinely considered for patients who might need it.''
One of the main reasons for the under-use of aspirin could be the lack of clear advice from some national guidelines on the effectiveness of the drug for patients who are at increased risk of vascular disease but have not yet suffered a heart attack or stroke.
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