Low doses of aspirin can cure patient
By : Halmi Samad

KUALA LUMPUR: Low doses of aspirin can dramatically cut the risk of life threatening blood clots in patients recovering from surgery, according to the results of an international study published on Friday.

The Pulmonary Embolism Prevention (PEP) trial studied the effects of aspirin on more than 13,000 patients in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and South Africa who had surgery for hip fractures.

The results, published in the latest edition of The Lancet medical journal, showed that a five-week course of low-dose aspirin, about half a tablet daily, cut the number of blood clots in the legs and lungs by a third and halved the number of deaths caused by them.

"These results provide good evidence for considering aspirin use routinely in a wide range of surgical and medical groups at high risk of venous thromboembolism (blood clots in the leg)," the team of researchers said.

Dr Rory Collins, a professor at the University of Oxford who helped to conduct the study, called the results far-reaching.

"The benefits of aspirin demonstrated by this trial are likely to extend to patients having other types of surgery and to people at risk of pulmonary embolism (clots in the lung) for other reasons," he said.

The British Heart Foundation heralded the findings, saying they could have implications for millions of patients undergoing surgery, particularly in the developing world, because aspirin is cheap and widely available.

"It is well known that aspirin benefits patients following heart attack and stroke, by preventing blood clots developing in blood vessels supplying the heart and the brain," the association said in a statement.

"However, previous studies have been inconclusive about the effectiveness of aspirin for the prevention of blood clots in the veins of the legs and in the lungs -- these conditions are a particularly problem in patients undergoing major surgery," it added.

Aspirin prevents blood clots by reducing the stickiness of platelets, the small blood cells that can clump together to form a clot.