Daily Aspirin Linked to Greater Fall Risk in Seniors

It wasn’t long ago that doctors often prescribed a daily low-dose aspirin to older adults to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke due to its blood-thinning properties.  More recent research, however, has found that even at low doses, taking aspirin daily has its risks including ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, and in severe cases – hemorrhagic stroke.  A new study has also linked a daily aspirin regime with an increased likelihood of falls among older people.

According to a recent New Scientist report, in a trial including more than 16,000 people over the age of 70, those who took low-dose aspirin every day were about 10 percent more likely to have a fall that required hospital care than those who were taking a placebo.  The study, conducted by researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia tracked 16,703 white Australians, aged 70 or older, who were described as “relatively healthy” over an average of 4.6 years.

Although earlier research suggested that a daily regime of low-dose aspirin might slow cognitive decline, and strengthen bones – leading to fewer serious falls among seniors, newer research contradicts these theories.   The Australian study placed half the participants on 100 milligrams of aspirin per day while the other half took a placebo.  More than 1,400 of the participants had at least one fall that required hospital care during the course of the study.  Participants in the aspirin group were nearly 10 percent more likely to suffer a fall than those not taking aspirin. 

About half of seniors over the age of 80 suffer a fall at least once a year, and falls are a leading cause of injury and hospitalization among older adults.  Lifestyle interventions like improving muscle strength, balance, and overall fitness may be a safer approach to reducing the risk of falls among seniors.  Reviewing all medications at least once a year with your doctor or pharmacist can also help prevent dangerous drug interactions and side effects that can contribute to a fall.  

As always, talk with your doctor first before starting or stopping any prescribed medication or over-the-counter supplement.  Follow this link to the National Institutes on Aging to learn more about preventing falls and fractures in older adults.