Common painkiller 'raises the risk of brain bleeds and may not prevent strokes' | The SunJuly 27, 2023
A COMMON painkiller may increase the risk of deadly brain bleeds, scientists warn.
Aspirin – which is prescribed by doctors to treat strokes – may do little to prevent the killer condition, they also found.
The Australian research adds growing evidence that routine aspirin use for older adults who haven’t had a stroke carries more risk than benefit.
As people age, their risk of developing blood clots increases, which could block blood flow to the brain and trigger an ischaemic stroke.
This is the most common form of stroke, accounting for 85 per cent of all cases
To counter the risk, doctors sometimes prescribe older people low doses of the medicine to take each day, as it thins the blood.
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The study, published in JAMA, analysed the incidence of strokes and internal head bleeds in 19,114 people over the age of 70 for five years.
Half of the participants were given a low dose of aspirin every day, while the other half took a placebo pill.
Among those who took aspirin, 1.5 per cent suffered an ischaemic stroke during the study period, compared with 1.7 per cent in the placebo group.
It also found 1.1 per cent of the participants who took the medicine experienced bleeding inside or around their brain, compared with only 0.8 per cent of those taking a placebo.
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Brain bleeds, medically know as a subarachnoid haemorrhage, are an uncommon but often fatal type of stroke.
They happen when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.
A separate study found regularly popping an aspirin can also increase your risk of developing anaemia, especially in people 65 and older.
Iron deficiency anaemia is caused by lack of iron in your blood, according to the NHS.
Other side effects from taking aspirin daily could include mild indigestion and a tendency to bleed more easily.
For example, you may get nosebleeds and bruise more easily, and if you cut yourself, the bleeding may take longer than normal to stop.
The NHS advised you take extra care when doing activities that might cause an injury or a cut.
You should always wear a helmet when cycling, slip on gloves when you use sharp objects like scissors, knives, and gardening tools and use an electric razor instead of wet shaving.
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It's even worth being careful when you brush your teeth, by using a soft toothbrush and waxed dental floss.
However, you should always consult your doctor before coming off, changing or taking new medicines.
Signs of a stroke
THE main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST:
- Face – the face may have dropped on 1 side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
- Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in 1 arm.
- Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you're saying to them.
- Time – it's time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.
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