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Sep 12, 2014

Aspirin Offers Safe, Affordable Option to Prevent Blood Clots

A new study confirms that aspirin is a safe and effective treatment for patients with a history of venous thromboembolism.

A new study confirms that aspirin is a safe and effective way to prevent life-threatening blood clots, which affect an estimated one million Americans.

Published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation, this study tested aspirin use in patients with a history of venous thromboembolism. Venous thromboembolism occurs when a blood clot forms deep in a vein, which can cause life-threatening complications. Unfortunately, patients with a history of this condition are at high risk for future clots and long-term treatment carries serious risks, like bleeding. The good news is that aspirin may offer patients a new, simpler way to prevent clots and reduce risk of complications.

Known as the INSPIRE analysis (International Collaboration of Aspirin Trials for Recurrent Venous Thromboembolism), this study compared outcomes among 1,224 patients with a history of venous thromboembolism. At the start of the study, participants were assigned to take either aspirin or a placebo pill with no active treatment and then followed for three years. Compared to those taking the inactive pill, patients taking aspirin had 42% lower risk of developing a blood clot and significantly lower risk of heart events, like heart attack and stroke. Researchers also found that bleeding risk, which is the most common type of complication associated with blood thinners, was extremely low among those taking aspirin.

Based on these findings, authors believe that aspirin offers a safe and effective way for patients with venous thromboembolism to reduce their risk of developing blood clots. Not only does aspirin carry lower risk of complications compared to other blood thinners, it’s easier to manage and is more affordable than other drugs. However, authors acknowledge that aspirin does not reduce risk of clots as much as stronger medications. Therefore, they strongly suggest aspirin use for patients who are unable to take the stronger anti-clot medications.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is venous thromboembolism and why is it dangerous?

  • Venous thromboembolism occurs when a clot forms in a vein, which can slow or completely block blood flow. The danger is that if these clots form in deep veins (most often in the leg or pelvis), they can break off and travel to the lungs or heart causing a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism can prevent your body from getting the oxygen that it needs, inflicting serious damage on internal organs.
  • How is venous thromboembolism treated?
  • Patients with a history of venous thromboembolism are often prescribed medication, such as blood thinners, to prevent a future clot. However, treatment depends on the unique needs of each patient.

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