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Aspirin May Reduce Risk of Repeat Blood Clots

Study Finds Daily Aspirin May Slash Repeat Clots in Veins by 40%
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Dec. 15, 2011 -- A low dose of daily aspirin, taken after completing six to 12 months of anti-clotting drug treatment, may help prevent the recurrence of deadly blood clots, a new study shows.

One doctor went so far as to call the preliminary study a potential “game changer.”

The clots, known as venous thromboembolism or VTE, often occur in the legs. They can travel to the lungs and sometimes be fatal. 

"With aspirin, a drug that is low cost, safe, and available worldwide, we can reduce by 40% the incidence of the recurrence of VTE," says Cecilia Becattini, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Perugia in Italy.

She presented her findings at a news conference at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in San Diego.

Blood Clots: Numbers, Risks

VTE occurs in about 800,000 people in North America every year, Becattini says. If the blood clot travels, it sometimes can block an artery to the lung, causing chest pain and severe shortness of breath  If not treated quickly, it can be deadly.

In some cases, anti-clotting drugs such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven, Marfarin) are given as treatment for a period of six to 12 months after the blood clot. However, two years after stopping the warfarin, 15% to 20% of patients have a repeat clot.

While the anti-clotting treatment can be extended beyond 6-12 months, it carries a risk of bleeding. While on the drugs, called anticoagulant therapy, patients must also get frequent blood tests to see if the dose is correct. Most find that inconvenient, Becattini says.

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