Aspirin was long believed to be a cure-all — even able to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Those at risk of these ailments were told to take an aspirin each day, considering the pill works as a blood thinner.
But about six months ago, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended people age 60 and older should not begin taking a low-dose aspirin each day to prevent heart problems.
It was found that aspirin, even at low doses, can cause ulcers or bleeding in the digestive tract, both of which can be life-threatening.
Now a new study, published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine, suggests a daily aspirin can also cause mild bleeding that leads to anemia in older adults.
Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells, which provide oxygen to body tissues. Severe anemia can increase a person’s risk of developing an abnormally fast heartbeat or heart failure.
The recent study involved nearly 20,000 adults ages 65 and older in the United States and Australia. Half were given low-dose aspirin (100 milligrams) daily, while the other group received a placebo.
Researchers followed the participants for five years, ensuring yearly blood tests for hemoglobin and ferritin, a protein in blood that stores iron.
“Low-dose aspirin increased incident anemia (by 20%) and decline in ferritin in otherwise healthy older adults, independent of major bleeding,” the scientists wrote.
They also suggested periodic monitoring of hemoglobin in older adults on aspirin.