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Aspirin does not reduce heart attack risk in diabetics

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Aspirin does not reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke for patients who have diabetes but no previous cardiovascular disease, a new study reports.

The finding contradicts several existing clinical guidelines which recommend that diabetics take aspirin to reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Researchers in Scotland studied 1,276 patients over 40 with type 1 or type 2 diabetes and peripheral arterial disease, but no symptoms of cardiovascular disease.

Those given 100 mg of aspirin a day were as likely to die from cardiovascular disease or stroke, or suffer a non-fatal myocardial infarction or limb amputation, as those taking a placebo (18.2 per cent vs. 18.3 per cent). The inclusion of antioxidants did not improve this result.

The authors say that the risks of gastrointestinal bleeding from aspirin mean that the drug is not suitable to prevent cardiovascular risks for diabetics. However, it is still useful to prevent a second cardiovascular event.

BMJ 2008;337:a1840

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