The use of low-dose aspirin among older people has been shown to increase the risk of serious falls, according to a world-first study by a team of international experts, led by Silverchain’s head of research Dr Anna Barker.

The clinical study of healthy people aged 70 and older found that low-dose aspirin failed to reduce the risk of fractures, and in fact, aspirin was shown to increase the risk of serious falls—falls that required hospital care.

Published in the JAMA Internal Medicine medical journal, the study titled ‘Daily low-dose aspirin and risk of serious falls and fractures in healthy older people’ was led by Dr Barker who is Silverchain’s Executive Director, Research and Innovation. Dr Barker is also an Adjunct Associate Professor with Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine.

“It was previously hypothesised that aspirin could reduce both falls and fractures by reducing cardiovascular associated physical and cognitive impairments and the anti-inflammatory properties mediating bone remodeling,” Dr Barker said.

“This new study disproved that hypothesis as it shows there can be increased risk of serious falls for older people.” 

“The study adds to the growing body of evidence from other studies that the use of aspirin in people who do not have a risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke provides little benefit,” Dr Barker said.

The randomised clinical trial is a world first, with no previous randomised study having explored the effect of aspirin on fall and fracture outcomes.

“Given that falls and fractures pose a substantial burden to both older people and the health system, this study provides a valuable contribution to developing effective strategies to reduce the burden of falls and fractures,” Dr Barker said.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, injurious falls in older people are the leading addressable problem facing the Australian health care system with an annual cost of $2.3 billion[1].

Dr Barker said older adults with a medical reason to take aspirin should continue to do so, and medical advice should always be sought before changing an aspirin regime. She said the study would add to the risk-benefit analysis for medical practitioners when considering medication for older people. 

The research paper can be accessed here.

Silverchain’s research and innovation strategy, Future Care, reflects the organisation’s commitment to home care leadership, enabling Silverchain to contribute to national and international learnings on best practice, policy and funding.

“Silverchain’s investment in researchers and clinicians who understand the challenges the health and aged care systems face is reflected in the world-class partnerships we have built across Australia,” Dr Barker said.

“Our Future Care strategy helps Silverchain improve current services and create new models of care through the evaluation and translation of new knowledge; developing and testing new products, services and technologies; and conducting academic research. 

“Most importantly, it’s about improving our clients’ health and care experience for generations to come.”

[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Falls in older Australians 2019-20: hospitalisations and deaths among people aged 65 and over, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 8 November 2022