Effect of Aspirin on Mortality in the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease
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OBJECTIVE: The lack of a mortality benefit of aspirin in prior meta-analyses of primary prevention trials of cardiovascular disease has contributed to uncertainty about the balance of benefits and risks of aspirin in primary prevention. We performed an updated meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of aspirin to obtain best estimates of the effect of aspirin on mortality in primary prevention. METHODS: Eligible articles were identified by searches of electronic databases and reference lists. Outcomes of interest were all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, myocardial infarction, stroke, and bleeding. Data were pooled from individual trials using the DerSimonian-Laird random-effects model, and results are presented as relative risk (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). RESULTS: Nine randomized controlled trials enrolling 100,076 participants were included. Aspirin reduced all-cause mortality (RR 0.94; 95% CI, 0.88-1.00), myocardial infarction (RR 0.83; 95% CI, 0.69-1.00), ischemic stroke (RR 0.86; 95% CI, 0.75-0.98), and the composite of myocardial infarction, stroke, or cardiovascular death (RR 0.88; 95% CI, 0.83-0.94), but did not reduce cardiovascular mortality (RR 0.96; 95% CI, 0.84-1.09). Aspirin increased the risk of hemorrhagic stroke (RR 1.36; 95% CI, 1.01-1.82), major bleeding (RR 1.66; 95% CI, 1.41-1.95), and gastrointestinal bleeding (RR 1.37; 95% CI, 1.15-1.62). A lack of availability of patient-level data precluded exploration of benefits and risks of aspirin in key subgroups. CONCLUSION: Aspirin prevents deaths, myocardial infarction, and ischemic stroke, and increases hemorrhagic stroke and major bleeding when used in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
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