Low-dose aspirin recommendations revised for younger diabetic patients

NEW YORK Findings published in the online edition of Diabetes Care have indicated that diabetics under a certain age should not use low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks.

The recommendations, which indicated that diabetic men under the age of 50 years and diabetic women under the age of 60 years should not use aspirin, were made based on an analysis of nine studies that found that the risks of such side effects as stomach bleeding and -- to a much lesser extent -- bleeding strokes, have to be better balanced against the potential benefits of using aspirin. Although diabetics face a higher risk of heart disease, the findings suggested that aspirin be used only by diabetics who have other risk factors and are older.

The findings have been endorsed by the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology Foundation.

"The larger theme here is that use of low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks in people who have not already experienced one is probably not as efficacious as we used to believe it was," said Craig Williams, an associate professor in the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University, and one of the experts on the recent review panel. "With any medication, you have to balance the benefits against possible side effects or risks. But even a baby aspirin has some degree of risk, even though it's very low, so we have to be able to show clear benefits that outweigh that risk. In the case of young adults with diabetes but no other significant risk factors, it's not clear that the benefits are adequate to merit use of aspirin."

Additional studies in patients with diabetes are being conducted to further demonstrate exactly who would best benefit from aspirin therapy, Williams said.

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