Millions of people globally take an aspirin daily to lower their risk of heart attack, and now a new study has found that this habit could lower the risk of death in patients hospitalised as a result of Covid-19.
The study, led by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the United States, found that hospitalised Covid-19 patients who were taking a daily low-dose aspirin to protect against cardiovascular disease had a significantly lower risk of complications and death compared to those who were not taking aspirin.
According to the findings, aspirin takers were 43 per cent less likely to require treatment in an intensive care unit and 44 per cent less likely to be hooked up to a mechanical ventilator. They were also 47 per cent more likely to survive the infection compared to hospitalised patients who were not taking aspirin.
The study, published today in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia, provides “cautious optimism,” the researchers said. “This is a critical finding that needs to be confirmed through a randomized clinical trial,” study leader Jonathan Chow, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology at UMSOM, said.
“If our finding is confirmed, it would make aspirin the first widely available, over-the-counter medication to reduce mortality in COVID-19 patients.”
The study focused on 412 Covid-19 patients, with an average age of 55, who were hospitalised over the past few months due to complications from their infection. About a quarter of the patients were taking a daily low-dose aspirin before they were admitted or right after admission to manage their cardiovascular disease.
While many people are advised by their doctors to take aspirin to combat the risk of heart attack, as the drug can help to maintain blood flow, a recent study actually found that prolonged daily use of the drug increases the risk of gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding by at least 60 per cent in people aged 70 and over.
The Monash University-led study, published in top gastroenterology journal Gut in August, followed 19,114 participants over almost five-years and recorded 264 incidents of major GI bleeding, a known side-effect of aspirin.
Of the 264 incidents of both upper and lower GI bleeding, 162 occurred in those taking aspirin daily and 102 in the placebo group. The study also found that smoking, hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity, chronic kidney disease and the use of anti-inflammatory drugs also increased bleeding risk.
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