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GPs 'not prescribing enough aspirin to diabetes patients'

By Lilian Anekwe

Too few patients with type 2 diabetes are being prescribed aspirin for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, researchers claim.

Two studies presented at the Diabetes UK conference in Glasgow last week suggested GPs often did not prescribe aspirin to patients with diabetes, with both finding a ‘shortfall'.

The first, by researchers at City Hospital in Birmingham, found that while 53 of 82 patients with type 2 diabetes referred by GPs to a diabetic outpatient clinic were on aspirin, nearly a third were prescribed the drug as a secondary prevention measure while 28% were prescribed neither aspirin or the second-line antiplatelet, clopidogrel.

A second study, by researchers at Llandudno General Hospital in Wales, found that of 21 patients who had no evidence of CVD, aspirin was prescribed in only two, while 10 did not receive any antiplatelet therapy.

Recent research has seen the pendulum swing against the role of aspirin and other anti-platelet drugs in the prevention of vascular disease in patients with diabetes.

Two studies published last year both found there was no ‘clinically significant' benefit for reducing heart attacks or strokes of daily aspirin as primary prevention in patients with diabetes.

NICE guidelines on diabetes published earlier last year recommend GPs give prophylactic aspirin treatment to older patients without hypertension and those under 50 years with another significant cardiovascular risk factor.

Dr Parijat De, consultant in endocrinology at the City Hospital in Birmingham and leader of the first study, said: ‘The criteria and evidence for switching anti-platelet agents needs to be reviewed and changes made to current prescribing practice.'

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