Risk of gastrointestinal haemorrhage with long term use of aspirin: meta-analysis

Sheena Derry, Yoon Kong Loke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

662 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To assess the incidence of gastrointestinal haemorrhage associated with long term aspirin therapy and to determine the effect of dose reduction and formulation on the incidence of such haemorrhage.

Design: Meta-analysis of 24 randomised controlled trials (almost 66 000 participants).

Intervention: Aspirin compared with placebo or no treatment, for a minimum of one year.

Main outcome measures: Incidence of gastrointestinal haemorrhage.

Results: Gastrointestinal haemorrhage occurred in 2.47% of patients taking aspirin compared with 1.42% taking placebo (odds ratio 1.68; 95% confidence interval 1.51 to 1.88); the number needed to harm was 106 (82 to 140) based on an average of 28 months' therapy. At doses below 163 mg/day, gastrointestinal haemorrhage occurred in 2.30% of patients taking aspirin compared with 1.45% taking placebo (1.59; 1.40 to 1.81). Meta-regression showed no relation between gastrointestinal haemorrhage and dose. For modified release formulations of aspirin the odds ratio was 1.93 (1.15 to 3.23).

Conclusions: Long term therapy with aspirin is associated with a significant increase in the incidence of gastrointestinal haemorrhage. No evidence exists that reducing the dose or using modified release formulations would reduce the incidence of gastrointestinal haemorrhage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1183-1187
Number of pages5
JournalBMJ-British Medical Journal
Issue number7270
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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