The risk-benefit ratio of aspirin therapy in prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains contentious, especially in type 2 diabetes. This study examined the benefit and harm of low-dose aspirin (daily dose < 300 mg) in patients with type 2 diabetes.
This is a longitudinal observational study with primary and secondary prevention cohorts based on history of CVD at enrolment. We compared the occurrence of primary composite (non-fatal myocardial infarction or stroke and vascular death) and secondary endpoints (upper GI bleeding and haemorrhagic stroke) between aspirin users and non-users between January 1995 and July 2005.
Of the 6,454 patients (mean follow-up: median [IQR]: 4.7 [4.4] years), usage of aspirin was 18% (n = 1,034) in the primary prevention cohort (n = 5731) and 81% (n = 585) in the secondary prevention cohort (n = 723). After adjustment for covariates, in the primary prevention cohort, aspirin use was associated with a hazard-ratio of 2.07 (95% CI: 1.66, 2.59, p < 0.001) for primary endpoint. There was no difference in CVD event rate in the secondary prevention cohort. Overall, aspirin use was associated with a hazard-ratio of 2.2 (1.53, 3.15, p < 0.001) of GI bleeding and 1.71 (1.00, 2.95, p = 0.051) of haemorrhagic stroke. The absolute risk of aspirin-related GI bleeding was 10.7 events per 1,000 person-years of treatment.
In Chinese type 2 diabetic patients, low dose aspirin was associated with a paradoxical increase in CVD risk in primary prevention and did not confer benefits in secondary prevention. In addition, the risk of GI bleeding in aspirin users was rather high.