8-Jul-10 12:00 PM  CST

International Study to Examine Benefits of Aspirin in the Elderly

United States and Australia researchers are collaborating to assess the health benefits of aspirin in the elderly in the largest international trial ever sponsored by the U.S.National Institute on Aging  (NIA).

Led by researchers from Monash University in Australia and the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation in Minnesota, the Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) clinical trial will recruit 19,000 participants from the U.S. and Australia to determine whether taking an aspirin a day can help prolong life and reduce the risk of disability or dementia in people over 70. NIA awarded $50 million last year to help fund the ASPREE trial, one of the largest contributions it has ever awarded an international study.  

“ASPREE is unprecedented in that it’s the largest trial and the first international trial the NIA has ever done,” said Dr. Richard Grimm, Medical Director of the Berman Center for Outcomes and Clinical Research and the lead researcher of the ASPREE trial in the U.S, in a press release. “What we learn from this study will help determine whether physicians recommend aspirin as preventative medicine to their older patients.”

Participants in the trial will be randomly assigned either a low-dose aspirin or a placebo to take daily. Researchers will evaluate their progress over a period of five years. According to John McNeil, the head of the Monash School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine and lead researcher of the ASPREE trial in Australia, a daily dose of aspirin is known to help prevent heart attacks and some forms of stroke, and it may also help prevent mental decline and some forms of cancer. However, he said, aspirin is also known to have side effects such as bleeding, that may offset its benefits, especially in people over 70.

“We want to look at the potential of aspirin to improve the health of older (people) something that is increasingly important as the population ages,” McNeil said. “This age group has not previously been studied in sufficient numbers to inform health guidelines.”

Other sponsors include the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia and Bayer, which is supplying the aspirin for the trial. Enrollment in the United States still ongoing in clinics across 11 states including Minnesota, Texas, Florida and North Carolina. The U.S will enroll 6,500 participants over the next two years.

More information is available at www.ASPREE.org or at the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation website.


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