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Aspirin doubles age-related macular degeneration risk

Patients taking aspirin once or more per week more than double their risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, say researchers.

The study

Researchers from Australia and Singapore used data from 2,389 participants who were part of a cohort study that followed patients for 15 years. They assessed the link between aspirin use and neovascular age-related macular degeneration, with regular aspirin use was defined as taking the drug once or more per week for the past year, while occasional use was defined as less than once per week for the past year.

The findings

Regular aspirin use was associated with a significantly increased risk of developing neovascular age-related macular degeneration of almost two-and-a-half times, when compared with non-users of aspirin. In patients with a history of cardiovascular disease this increased to a more than four-fold risk, compared with non-users. Patients with no history of cardiovascular disease had a non-significant 90% increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. The results for occasional users were non-significant.

What does it mean for GPs?

The authors concluded that ‘any decision to stop aspirin therapy is complex and should be individualised,’ noting that the risk ‘should be balanced with the significant morbidity and mortality of sub-optimally treated cardiovascular disease.’ Overall they felt there was insufficient evidence to recommend changing practice, except in patients with strong risk factors for neovascular age-related macular degeneration.

JAMA 2013, online 21 January

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