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Aspirin is a cheap alternative to warfarin for heart failure patients

Published on 03/05/2012

Aspirin could be as effective as Warfarin at treating patients with heart failure, according to a large scale new study.

Heart failure is a major health problem that affects about 900,000 people in the UK. A failing heart struggles to pump blood around the body, increasing the risk of blood clots and consequently the risk of stroke.

Heart failure patients have traditional been treated with warfarin, a drug which thins the blood to reduce the risk of a blood clot forming.

But according to an international team of researchers, aspirin is as effective as the more expensive warfarin at reducing blood clot risk, with similar side effects.

The researchers gave 2,305 patients in 11 counties either aspirin or warfarin. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, they found that the combined risk of death, stroke and major bleeding was the same for both drugs.

After four years there was a small benefit with warfarin but it was borderline and of uncertain clinical significance.

The scientists concluded that there is no compelling evidence to use warfarin rather than aspirin.

Side effects of aspirin can include a bleeding or clotting disorder and bleeding stomach ulcers, whilst warfarin can increase the risk of brain haemorrhage.

Lead researcher, Dr Shunichi Homma, from the Columbia University Medical Center, said: "Since the overall risks and benefits are similar for aspirin and warfarin, the patient and his or her doctor are free to choose the treatment that best meets their particular medical needs.

"However, given the convenience and low cost of aspirin, many may go this route."

Heart failure could be considered a chronic condition by some insurers, so speak to one of our health insurance advisors if you want to be covered for it on your private medical insurance.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012

Categories:  Medical
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