In the past, aspirin was often prescribed to people with diabetes, with the aim of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease as a diabetes complication.

However, concerns over an increased risk of bleeding associated with aspirin have led to recent new guidelines for aspirin for diabetics in the UK.

Aspirin: revised recommendations

In late 2009, Diabetes UK revised their recommendations regarding aspirin. They stated that people without known cardiovascular disease need to discuss their individual cases with their healthcare team, rather than taking aspirin as a preventative. Those people that are already taking aspirin were advised to continue until they have talked with their healthcare team.

Diabetes UK recommends that people with diabetes who have a history of cardiovascular disease should take aspirin – including those with heart disease , stroke, transient ischemic attack and peripheral vascular disease.

Effectively, the consensus is that aspirin should not be used routinely to prevent heart attacks amongst people with diabetes. Previous guidelines that suggested aspirin should be used by diabetics to counter the risk of heart attack and stroke are now invalid.

That said, some high-risk groups should still use aspirin to lower their risk.

Patients with diabetes should discuss their aspirin use with their healthcare professional. The fact remains that amongst people who have had a heart attack or stroke, aspirin has been shown to reduce the risk of future cardiovascular events by a significant amount. The risk of stomach bleeding needs to be carefully considered and discussed with your healthcare team.

What the community are saying about hypos?

  • Foreman : I have stopped taking low dose aspirin following advice from a consultant. Now my GP wants to restart me on them. I’m confused; I understand the reasons for taking them but I want to know if the risks outweigh the benefits?
  • Hobs : There are risks and possible side effects with most meds, but you would need to know why the meds were prescribed in the first place to evaluate if the benefits outweigh any risk by taking it. I was prescribed 150mg of dispersable aspirin daily for cardiovascular reasons and to counteract any digestive tract problems I also take the proton pump inhibitor lansaprazole. To get technical, aspirin slows the production of sticky platelets in the blood and therefore reduces the clotting factor, and for men, after several TIA’s some years ago, aspirin is a risk worth taking.
  • Vanessabc : I always refused to take aspiri, under considerable pressure from my consultant, and am glad I stood my ground. I have also been under pressure to take a drug to reduce my cholesterol (which has always been superbly low), I am refusing to do this, they never suggest a change in diet to reduce cholesterol, which is much safer and natural).
  • IanS : Most acidic substances are imbibed as aqueous solutions, such as the various examples that you gave. Unless aspirin is taken in solution, it is usually taken as a tablet, which then sits next to the stomach wall. Now the stomach already contains a very strong acid solution. So strong in fact that it continuously dissolves the stomach wall. Fortunately, it continuously renews itself. It would seem that the problem with aspirin is not actually its acidic qualities that result in holes in the stomach wall, but the fact that it causes ulcers in the wall or even local bleeding. These ulcerated spots are less able to renew themselves, hence in some people the wall can be breached.
  • Witan : Aspirin is to thin your blood and reduce possibilities of clotting, the jury is out and divided on the need and effectiveness of this. For me Aspirin had some strange effects on my stomach (Dr would not believe) It made me very constipated and I proved this by stopping and starting it several times.

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