Study Finds Aspirin as Effective as Warfarin in Preventin Recurring Stroke
A study published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine found that aspirin "works just as well" to prevent recurring strokes as warfarin, the generic version of the blood thinner drug Coumadin, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Warfarin and aspirin thin the blood to prevent clots that can block blood vessels and lead to strokes (Donn, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/15). In the study, Dr. J.P. Mohr, a neurologist at New York's Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, and colleagues tested warfarin on 1,103 ischemic stroke patients and aspirin on the same number of patients. Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot forms outside the heart and stops the flow of blood to the brain. Researchers found "no significant differences" between warfarin and aspirin in the "prevention of recurrent ischemic stroke or death" in the patients studied. According to the study, 17.8% of patients who took warfarin died or suffered an additional stroke within two years, compared to 16% who took aspirin. In addition, both groups of patients had low rates of "major hemorrhage." The researchers "regard both warfarin and aspirin as reasonable therapeutic alternatives" to treat patients who have suffered an ischemic stroke and concluded that aspirin "appears to be a well-justified choice" of treatment (Mohr et al., NEJM, 11/15). NIH funded the study.
Even though the study found warfarin and aspirin to be equal in preventing stroke, it may "actually give an edge to aspirin," a less expensive drug that "demands less medical supervision," Dr. William Powers, a brain researcher at Washington University in St. Louis., wrote in an accompanying editorial. Aspirin treatment costs about $10 per year, while warfarin treatment and related blood tests can cost "several hundred dollars" per year (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.