Patients with atrial fibrillation who take aspirin at the same time as blood thinners have a higher risk of bleeding.
A new study published in the JAMA Network Open found a hidden risk in taking aspirin for those already taking blood-thinning medication. Research has revealed that the the risk of bleeding increases significantly when taking aspirin at the same time as they are being treated with anticoagulants.
The sample included 6700 patients who were being treated for blood clots and atrial fibrillation — a type of cardiac arrhythmia characterized by very irregular and usually rapid heartbeats, with 80 to 160 beats per minute, and which is associated with an increased risk of stroke. It is estimated that around 200,000 to 250,000 people suffer from atrial fibrillation in Portugal.
The patients took aspirin conjugation with warfarin, a common anticoagulant. “We know that aspirin is not a panacea as previously thought and may, in fact, lead to more bleeding in some of these patients, so we are working with clinics to reduce aspirin use in patients who don’t need to take it,” he explains. Geoffrey Barnes, lead author of the study.
Aspirin consumption fell by 46.6% during the analysis period and the risk of complications caused by bleeding fell 32.3% because of this. This translates to one less major bleed per 1000 patients who stop taking the drug.
“When we started this study, doctors were already trying to reduce aspirin use, and our results show that accelerating this reduction prevents serious bleeding complications which, in turn, can save patients’ lives“, says Barnes.
This is not the first research to point to a possible danger of taking aspirin for these patients. A previous study found that those taking warfarin and aspirin had more bleeding and more emergency room visits than those taking only warfarin. The results were similar for those taking aspirin and oral blood thinners, writes SciTech Daily.
For some people, aspirin can save lives. Many patients with a history of stroke, heart attack, or cardiovascular disease benefit from medication. The challenge arises when some people take aspirin without a history of cardiovascular disease at the same time as taking blood thinners.