Research from the US has suggested that Aspirin may be as effective as the more costly Warfarin drug in treating heart failure patients who have a normal heart rhythm.
Heart failure affects nearly 1 million people in the UK. It is caused when the heart struggles to efficiently pump blood around the body, increasing the chances of a blood clot forming. When a clot forms in arteries supplying blood to the brain, it also leads to a stroke.
Both Aspirin and Warfarin are able to reduce the risk of a blood clot forming. 75% of heart failure patients still have a normal heart rhythm and the researcher were unable to distinguish which drug provided the most benefit. However, both drugs come with different risks.
The researchers tested both drugs on over 2,300 patients around the world. They found that the combined risks of patients dying, suffering a stroke and suffering internal bleeding was the same for each drug. Warfarin was found to be more effective at reducing the risk of stroke than Aspirin, but also had a higher risk of causing internal bleeding.
The researchers suggest that doctors should decide which drug is best for their patient, but Aspirin also costs much less than Warfarin and may influence the decision.
A spokesperson for the British heart Foundation said that neither drug had an advantage over the other. Other experts suggest that stroke is a much worse side effect than a haemorrhage and as such Warfarin may be the better option, but doctors should be in the position to decide the optimum treatment.