According to new study, if you’re currently taking one blood thinner, you don’t need to take another. In fact, when individuals on a routinely prescribed blood thinner cease taking aspirin, their risk of bleeding problems drops considerably.
Over 6,700 adults treated at anticoagulation clinics in Michigan for venous thromboembolism, or blood clots, as well as atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm that can lead to stroke, were studied. Despite having no history of heart disease, patients were given the popular blood thinner warfarin as well as aspirin.
“We know that aspirin is not a panacea pill as it was formerly assumed to be and can actually contribute to increased bleeding episodes in some of these individuals,” said Geoffrey Barnes, M.D., senior author of the study and a cardiologist at the University of Michigan Health Frankel Cardiovascular Center.
Aspirin usage among patients fell by 46.6% throughout the research period. When aspirin was taken less often, the chance of a bleeding problem decreased by 32.3%, resulting in one severe bleeding event avoided for every 1,000 patients who stopped using aspirin. The findings were reported in JAMA Network Open.
“When we started this study, there was already an effort by doctors to reduce aspirin use, and our findings show that accelerating that reduction prevents serious bleeding complications, which can be lifesaving for patients,” said Barnes, an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School. “It’s critical for clinicians and health-care institutions to be more aware of when people on blood thinners should and should not take aspirin.”
This reduction in aspirin use is based on multiple research that discovered disturbing correlations between concurrent aspirin use and other blood thinners.
According to one study, individuals receiving warfarin with aspirin for atrial fibrillation and VTE had more significant bleeding episodes and ER visits for bleeding than those receiving warfarin alone. Patients using aspirin and direct oral anticoagulants were shown to be more likely to have a bleeding episode but not less likely to develop a blood clot.
“While aspirin is a very essential drug, it is taken less frequently than it was a decade ago,” Barnes said. “However, each study shows that there are considerably fewer situations in which patients who are already taking an anticoagulant benefit from adding aspirin on top of that medication.”
The blood thinner they are taking is already protecting them against clot formation.”
Aspirin can be lifesaving for certain people. Many individuals with a history of ischemic stroke, heart attack, or a stent inserted in the heart to enhance blood flow benefit from the medicine, as do those with a history of cardiovascular disease.
According to first author Jordan Schaefer, M.D., a haematologist at U-M Health and clinical associate professor of internal medicine at U-M Medical School, the problem arises when some persons take aspirin without a history of cardiovascular disease and are also administered an anticoagulant.
“Many of these folks were probably taking aspirin for primary prevention of heart attack or stroke, which we now know is less effective than previously thought, and no one pulled them off it when they started warfarin,” Schaefer said. “These findings highlight the importance of only taking aspirin under the supervision of your doctor and not starting over-the-counter drugs like aspirin until you have discussed with your care team whether the potential benefit justifies the risk.”