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Aspirin, A Cheap Alternative for Blood Thinners

Update Date: Jun 05, 2013 11:38 AM EDT

A new study conducted by Canadian researchers has found a cheaper alternative for people with artificial hips. Patients who get artificial hip implants are at a higher risk for blood clots, which include deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Blood clots can lead to deadly heart attacks and strokes, which is why preventing them from occurring is extremely vital. Doctors today prescribe blood thinners, known as anticoagulants such as low-molecular-weight heparin, which is injected or rivaroxaban, also known as Xarelto, which is in pill form. These drug options are often pricey, which prompted researchers to study the effects of using aspirin, a cheaper option, as a blood thinner.

"Low-molecular-weight heparin and the newer blood thinner, Xarelto, are similarly priced; they're several hundred-fold more expensive than aspirin," said the study's lead author, Dr. David Anderson. Anderson is a professor and head of the department of medicine at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The researchers recruited 778 people who underwent elective hip replacement surgery from 2007 to 2010. All patients were immediately treated with heparin for 10 days post surgery. After the 10 days, the researchers randomly divided the group into two. The first group of patients continued with the heparin treatment. The other group was administered 81 milligrams of aspirin per day. The experiment lasted four weeks.

The researchers found that the absolute difference between the two drug treatments was one percent. During the experiment, five people suffered blood clots while on heparin in comparison to the one person who had a blood clot while taking aspirin. The researchers also reported that there were five severe cases of bleeding events in the heparin group and only two cases in the aspirin group.

Even though the study had promising results that suggested that aspirin could be effective as a blood thinner, the experiment was cut short after it failed to recruit enough participants later on. The premature ending of the study was caused by the introduction of Xarelto. The researchers now plan on heading a new study to compare aspirin to Xarelto.

The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine

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