ASPREE (ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly) study was an international, multicentre clinical trial to determine whether daily low-dose aspirin prolonged good health by preventing or delaying age-related illness such as cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke), dementia, depression and certain cancers in the healthy elderly. It is the largest primary prevention aspirin study ever undertaken in healthy people aged ≥ 70 years and the first to weigh the benefits versus the risks.
The randomised double-blind, placebo-controlled trial enrolled 19,114 healthy participants (16,703 in Australia, 2,114 in the US). Participants lived in urban, regional and rural locations in south eastern Australia and across multiple US states.
The Results (published 17 September 2018 in NEJM)
ASPREE found low dose (100 mg) aspirin did not prolong life free of disability, or significantly reduce the risk of a first heart attack or stroke in healthy people aged 70 plus, over the duration of the trial. The overall benefit (on life free of disability) did not offset the increased risk of bleeding, a known side-effect of aspirin.
According to Principal investigator Professor John McNeil, Head of Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, the results of the trial will result in a rethinking of global guidelines relating to the use of aspirin to prevent common conditions associated with ageing.
The researchers will continue to follow the health of the participants through an extension study, ASPREE-XT, to determine whether beneficial effects of aspirin, such as cancer prevention, emerge sometime after taking the drug. Researchers will also investigate other opportunities to improve the health of senior citizens. More findings from the ASPREE trial are expected to be published in the near future.
Please note: ASPREE’s findings relate ONLY to healthy older people, aged 70 or more years. The results do not apply to those taking aspirin on medical advice, for example those who have had a heart attack or stroke. Consult your GP before changing your aspirin regime.
Professor John McNeil is the principal investigator in Australia and is responsible for designing and planning the ASPREE Study at Monash University and he oversees the central coordination of all Australian ASPREE sites and sub-studies to ensure progress of the trial.