Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 11th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Help or Hinder

Results of a five-year study reveal the pros and cons of the elderly taking regular aspirin

02 November 2018

Help or Hinder

Surprisingly beautiful under a microscope, crystals of aspirin (pictured), are more familiar as key ingredients in commonly-used painkillers. Besides pain relief, aspirin also affects circulation: by preventing platelets from aggregating, it reduces the likelihood of blood clots, so is generally prescribed to patients with a high risk of cardiovascular disease. Yet, without this elevated risk, taking aspirin preventatively might not be so beneficial. A recent five year-long study testing this in healthy elderly patients, with no previous history of heart conditions, found that patients taking low doses of aspirin were no less likely to develop cardiovascular problems than those receiving a placebo. By contrast, the probability of serious bleeding, or haemorrhage, was higher in the aspirin group, as was overall mortality, especially related to cancer. While these findings should be interpreted with caution, balancing the benefits of aspirin with the potential risks is crucial to determining appropriate treatments.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.