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Study Shows Aspirin Can Help Prevent Dangerous Blood Clots


7 November 2012

Study Shows Aspirin Can Help Prevent Dangerous Blood Clots

Media Release

An international study, part-funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC), shows low-dose aspirin is a cheap and effective way to prevent potentially deadly blood clots in the veins of the leg or in the lungs.

The study, which has just been published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found people with blood clots in the veins of the leg (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) or the lungs (pulmonary embolism or PE), also known as venous thromboembolism (VTE) are less likely to suffer a recurrence of the serious blood clots or a cardiac event if they take low-dose aspirin.

Running since 2003, the ASPIRE study completed recruitment of 822 participants from five countries including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, India and Argentina. More than a quarter of the patients were recruited in New Zealand, with funding for the New Zealand investigators provided by a $537,000 grant from the Health Research Council of New Zealand.

All the participants previously had DVT or PE that occurred for no particular reason, and had completed on average six months of anticoagulant treatment (generally with warfarin). Participants were randomly allocated to receive either low dose enteric coated aspirin 100mg daily or a matching placebo. On average, participants were followed for three years.

Blood clots in the veins of the leg or the lungs are a common condition and affect about 1 in every 1000 persons in New Zealand and Australia each year.

Dr Tim Brighton, a haematologist in Sydney and principal investigator of the study, said many patients discontinue warfarin therapy after 6 or 12 months of treatment due to the inconvenience of regular blood tests and the increased risks of serious bleeding. However, if warfarin therapy is stopped these patients are at high risk of recurring thrombosis.

“The ASPIRE study found that aspirin reduces the risk of important blood clotting events, including recurrent VTE, myocardial infarction, stroke, or cardiovascular death. We now

have clear evidence that aspirin is of benefit for patients who are unable or do not wish to continue warfarin in the long term.”

Director of the Thrombosis Unit at Auckland Hospital, Dr Paul Ockelford, who led the New Zealand trials, says: “The results of this study will change our practice managing patients with venous thromboembolism, so it’s an exciting development. Unless a patient is a candidate for extended anticoagulants, we now have the evidence to recommend long-term aspirin as it’s not only effective, but also safe and cheap.”


o The study was conducted by NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre at the University of Sydney and investigators in Australia, New Zealand, India, Singapore and Argentina.

o The study was supported by project grants from Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council, the Health Research Council of New Zealand, the Australasian Society of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, and Bayer HealthCare, Germany. Aspirin and matching placebo were provided without charge by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals who played no other role in the study.


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