The risk of a heart attack for patients who have suffered from heart disease is nearly two-thirds greater if they have stopped taking prescribed aspirin, a study discovered.
Low doses of aspirin is taken by people to stop blood clots from forming, but it is believed that as many as half of long-term users no longer continue to use the painkiller.
Research has shown that those who stop taking the painkiller are 60% more likely to have a non-fatal heart attack.
Information from a UK health record database, known as The Health Improvement Network, was analysed by a team of researchers from Spain and Sweden.
A total of 39,513 patients aged between 50 to 84 who had been prescribed aspirin between 2000 and 2007 were looked at by the team, which followed them up after three years.
They discovered that over one year, for every 1,000 people there were four more non-fatal heart attacks among patients who had recently stopped taking aspirin compared with those who continued the treatment.
The team concluded: “Reducing the number of patients who discontinue low dose aspirin could…have a major impact on the benefit obtained with low dose aspirin in the general population.
“Research is now needed to evaluate whether efforts to encourage patients to continue prophylactic treatment with low dose aspirin will result in a decrease in non-fatal myocardial infarction.”