Study shows aspirin can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes in patients with pneumonia

  • 8th July 2021

Aspirin can reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular events such as ischemic stroke and heart attack in patients with pneumonia, according to new research.

Serious cardiovascular complications are common in cases of pneumonia and are strongly associated with long-term mortality. A study by Dr Fergus Hamilton and colleagues at the University of Bristol looked at whether aspirin could reduce the risk of ischemic stroke (stroke caused by blockage of blood vessels, representing some 80 per cent of strokes) and heart attack, and if the drug could have a preventative role to play in primary care settings.

The team analysed the details of all patients aged over 50 with pneumonia from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), a large UK primary care database of more than 61 million patients. The primary outcome was defined as the occurrence of both ischemic stroke and myocardial infarction (MI – heart attack), while either of those events happening individually was defined as the secondary outcome.

Of the 48,743 patients identified as being eligible for inclusion in the study, the researchers found 8,099 aspirin users who were matched to 8,099 non-users also selected from the sample group.

The authors found that the risk of the primary outcome (stroke and MI) was 36 per cent lower in aspirin users compared to non-users. The drug was also associated with a reduced risk of both secondary outcomes with ischemic stroke and MI rates being 30 per cent and 54 per cent lower, respectively, in aspirin users.

The researchers conclude: “This study provides supporting evidence that aspirin use is associated with reduced ischaemic events after pneumonia in a primary care setting. This drug may have a future clinical role in preventing this important complication.”

Dr Fergus Hamilton, Wellcome Doctoral Fellow at the University of Bristol and an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow at North Bristol NHS Trust, said:

“This research really paves the foundation for a clinical trial of aspirin in pneumonia, which remains the most common reason for admission to hospital in many countries.”

The research, published in the European Respiratory Journal, is being presented at this year’s European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) taking place online between 9 and 12 July.

Read the paper

‘Aspirin reduces cardiovascular events in patients with pneumonia: a prior event rate ratio analysis in a large primary care database’ by F. Hamilton, D. Arnold, W. Henley and R. Payne in the European Respiratory Journal.