Literature

Clinical Pearls & Morning Reports


By Carla Rothaus

Published October 17, 2018

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Does the daily use of 100 mg of aspirin prolong a healthy lifespan in older adults without cardiovascular disease, dementia, or physical disability?

McNeil et al. conducted the randomized, placebo-controlled Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial to investigate whether the daily use of aspirin, at a dose of 100 mg, in healthy, community-dwelling older adults would prolong a healthy life span, free from dementia and persistent physical disability. Trial participants were community-dwelling men and women from Australia and the United States who were 70 years of age or older (or ≥65 years of age among blacks and Hispanics in the United States). Read the latest NEJM Original Article here.

Clinical Pearls

Q: Is there any evidence to support the use of aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular or other chronic disease in healthy older adults?

A: Several large, randomized trials have shown the efficacy of aspirin for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease among persons with a history of coronary heart disease or stroke. The evidence supporting a benefit of aspirin therapy in the primary prevention of cardiovascular or other chronic disease is less conclusive despite favorable trends suggesting that aspirin use reduces the incidence of cardiovascular events and possibly reduces the incidence of cancer and cancer-related mortality, particularly from colorectal cancer.

Q: Does the daily use of 100 mg of aspirin prolong a healthy lifespan in older adults without cardiovascular disease, dementia, or physical disability?

A: In the ASPREE trial, the daily use of 100 mg of enteric-coated aspirin did not differ significantly from placebo in influencing the rates of disability-free survival at a median of 4.7 years. The primary end point of death, dementia, or physical disability occurred in 921 participants in the aspirin group (21.5 events per 1000 person-years) and in 914 in the placebo group (21.2 events per 1000 person-years). The between-group difference was not significant (hazard ratio, 1.01; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.92 to 1.11; P=0.79). Among participants who had a primary end-point event, death was the most common first event (in 911 participants [50% of the events] at a mean age of 77.5 years), dementia was the next most common (in 549 participants [30% of the events] at a mean age of 77.7 years), and persistent physical disability was the least common.

Morning Report Questions 

Q: How does a daily aspirin dose of 100 mg influence rates of death from any cause and the risk of major hemorrhage in healthy older adults?

A: In the ASPREE trial, the secondary end point of death from any cause, denoting death as the first, second, or third event to occur in the primary end point, occurred in 558 participants in the aspirin group (12.7 events per 1000 person-years) and in 494 participants in the placebo group (11.1 events per 1000 person-years) (hazard ratio, 1.14; unadjusted 95% CI, 1.01 to 1.29). Because there was no adjustment for multiple comparisons of secondary end points, no inferences can be made regarding differences in mortality between the two groups. Major hemorrhage occurred in 3.8% of the participants in the aspirin group, as compared with 2.8% of those in the placebo group (hazard ratio, 1.38; 95% CI, 1.18 to 1.62; P<0.001). Fatal or nonfatal hemorrhagic stroke (including subarachnoid hemorrhage) occurred in 49 participants (0.5%) in the aspirin group and in 40 (0.4%) in the placebo group.

Q: How generalizable are the results of the ASPREE trial?

A: White participants comprised 91% of the overall trial cohort. Owing to the small number of blacks and Hispanics (including participants who were younger than 70 years of age) and other nonwhites, the applicability of the main findings of the ASPREE trial to these subgroups is unclear.

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