Digestive Disease Week
Digestive Disease Week
Perspective from Carole Macaron, MD
Source/Disclosures
Disclosures: Chan reports no relevant financial disclosures.
May 28, 2020
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Aspirin doubles risk for upper GI bleeding events in older adults

Perspective from Carole Macaron, MD
Source/Disclosures
Disclosures: Chan reports no relevant financial disclosures.
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Andrew T. Chan

Aspirin almost doubles the risk for serious upper gastrointestinal bleeding in older people and can further increase with age, smoking, chronic kidney disease and NSAIDs, according to data from Digestive Disease Week.

“This study confirms that among older adults, low dose aspirin is associated with an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding with the risk highest among those who smoke and have high blood pressure or kidney disease,” Andrew T. Chan, MD, chief, clinical and translational epidemiology unit director of cancer epidemiology at Massachusetts General Cancer Center, told Healio Gastroenterology.

Chan and colleagues assessed data on 19,114 patients from Aspree, an aspirin primary prevention trial. In the trial, 9,525 patients were randomly assigned to receive aspirin while 9,589 received placebo. Annually, investigators collected baseline clinical characteristics and a physician panel standardized and adjudicated GI bleeding events. The incidence of upper and lower GI bleeding was calculated. Then, predictors were identified with Cox regression analyses and the absolute risk for bleeding based on age and risk factors was modeled.

Aspirin almost doubles the risk for serious upper gastrointestinal bleeding in older people and can further increase with age, smoking, chronic kidney disease and NSAIDs.  Source: Adobe Stock

Of the 264 reported serious GI bleeding events, 137 were upper GI events (aspirin group n = 89, placebo group n = 48; HR = 1.87; 95% CI, 1.32-2.66) and 127 were lower GI events (aspirin group n = 73, placebo group n = 54; HR = 1.36; 95% CI, 0.96-1.94). Age, smoking, chronic kidney disease and NSAID use were risk factors for upper GI bleeding while age, smoking and hypertension were risk factors for lower GI bleeding, according to multivariate analyses. Proton pump inhibitor use was not linked to reduced bleeding events.

Chan and colleagues reported that the absolute, 5-year serious bleeding risk was 0.2% for 70-year-olds and 0.4% if patients were on aspirin, and up to 5.5% for 80-year-olds on aspirin with significant risk factors.

“Because this study was a rigorously performed randomized controlled trial, it provides more accurate estimates of the absolute risk of bleeding among individuals who initiate aspirin at an older age,” Chan said. “This will be useful for further studies to appropriately weigh the risks and benefits of low dose aspirin treatment.” – by Monica Jaramillo

Reference: Mahady SE, et al. Abstract 337. Presented at: Digestive Disease Week; May 2-5, 2020; Chicago (meeting canceled).