Aspirin use and incident stroke in the cardiovascular health study. CHS Collaborative Research Group.
Stroke. 1998 May;29(5):887-94. PMID: 9596230
Department of Biostatistics, University of Washington, Seattle, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Randomized clinical trials testing aspirin in relatively low-risk, middle-aged people have consistently shown small increases in stroke associated with aspirin use. We analyzed the relationship between the regular use of aspirin and incident ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke among people aged 65 years or older participating in the Cardiovascular Health Study. METHODS: We conducted a multivariate analysis of incident stroke rates in a prospectively assessed, observational cohort of 5011 elderly people followed for a mean of 4.2 years. RESULTS: Participants had a mean age of 72 years, and 58% were women. Twenty-three percent used aspirin frequently, and 17% used aspirin infrequently at study entry. Frequent aspirin use was associated with an increased rate of ischemic stroke compared with nonusers (relative risk= 1.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2 to 2.2; P=0.001). After adjustment for other stroke risk factors, women who used aspirin frequently or infrequently at study entry had a 1.8-fold (95% CI, 1.2 to 2.8) and 1.6-fold (95% CI, 0.9 to 3.0) increased risk of ischemic stroke, respectively (P<0.01, test for trend), compared with nonusers. In men, aspirin use was not statistically significantly associated with stroke risk. Findings were similar when aspirin use in the years before the incident stroke was used in the modeling. Aspirin use at entry was also associated with a 4-fold (95% CI, 1.6 to 10.0) increase in risk of hemorrhagic stroke for both infrequent and frequent users of aspirin (P=0.003). CONCLUSIONS: Aspirin use was associated with increased risks of ischemic stroke in women and hemorrhagic stroke overall in this elderly cohort, after adjustment for other stroke predictors. The possibility exists of confounding by reasons for aspirin use rather than cause and effect. Whether regular aspirin use increases stroke risk for elderly people without cardiovascular disease can only be determined by randomized clinical trials.