People who take aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease have a 29% lower risk of getting infections than those who do not take it regularly.
It is a centuries-old drug that is very common and that was used in particular during the Spanish flu in the early 20th century and is now the subject of a study by Israeli researchers. In the FEBS journal, they presented the results of an experiment that examined the protective effect of acetylsalicylic acid, the scientific name for aspirin, against covid-19. According to their findings, people who use aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease are less likely to be infected with the virus.
Fewer Covid-19 infections
Overall, the researchers analyzed data from more than 10,000 people tested for Covid-19 between Feb. 1 and June 30, 2020. “Taking aspirin to prevent cardiovascular disease was associated with a 29 percent lower risk of Covid-19 infection compared with people who did not take aspirin,” the study found. The proportion of people taking aspirin was lower in the positive-virus group compared with their proportion in the negative-virus group. In addition, the Israeli researchers found that Covid-19-positive individuals taking aspirin tended to stay ill for a shorter period of time and that the time between their last positive test and their first negative test, which marked the end of infection, was shorter. “These observations about the potentially beneficial effects of low-dose aspirin on Covid-19 are preliminary, but look very promising,” says Eli Magen, principal investigator. Further studies with larger patient samples and from other countries are needed to verify the results.
Is aspirin really good for the heart?
The effect of aspirin in preventing cardiovascular disease is controversial. About 30 years ago, researchers found that the drug reduced risk in patients with a family history or elevated risk factors. In 2016, a U.S. team even estimated that 900,000 deaths could be prevented in twenty years if all at-risk people in the United States did so. However, several studies contradict these potential benefits: They point out that taking aspirin increases the risk of bleeding, especially in the stomach and brain. The prescription of this drug as a preventive treatment may be recommended for non-diabetic patients at high cardiovascular risk and for people between 40 and 70 years of age. Although the results of this Israeli study appear encouraging, aspirin should not be taken unless recommended by a physician.