Aspirin use in diabetics - new study results

Results from a clinical trial looking at whether aspirin can prevent heart disease in people with diabetes have recently been reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. The ASCEND trial involved more than 15,000 people with diabetes, who were given either low-dose aspirin or a dummy pill (placebo) to take daily and were followed up for a number of years. Diabetics are known to have a higher than average risk of developing heart disease.

The researchers found that those people who took aspirin were less likely to develop heart disease. However, they were also more likely to experience internal bleeding – this is a known side effect of aspirin which is rare but can be serious. The ASCEND trial is likely to have included some people who have a higher risk of bleeding with aspirin, such as those with a history of stomach ulcers or kidney failure. These people are not able to take part in the Add-Aspirin trial.

Previous studies have suggested that people who take aspirin are less likely to develop cancers of the oesophagus, stomach or bowel (gastrointestinal cancers), but this was not seen in the ASCEND trial. This will be looked at again when participants have been followed up for longer, since cancers develop over many years and so it can take some time to see any differences.

Participants in the Add-Aspirin trial have had treatment for a previous cancer - we expect any benefits of aspirin (in terms of cancer prevention) to be greatest in these individuals, because of the risk of the cancer returning. However, this has not yet been confirmed and will be looked at in the trial. The Add-Aspirin trial is also collecting information about other conditions including diabetes and heart disease.

Contact Details

If you are an individual who is interested in taking part in Add-Aspirin, please talk to your doctor who will be able to consider whether you are suitable for the trial.

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Please log into the members area for Add-Aspirin contact details.

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For healthcare professionals

If your centre would like to recruit participants to Add-Aspirin, contact us:

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From Monday 16th March 2020, to RANDOMISE a participant in the UK please call +44 (0)20 7670 4925, rather than the usual randomisation line.

To RANDOMISE a participant from Republic of Ireland or India only, please use the 'Register a participant' link above to randomise online. Please make sure to press 'Randomise' once logged in to the server.

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