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Aspirin for Primary Prevention in Diabetes

State of the Evidence

William C. Gong, PharmD

Previous guidelines recommended low-dose aspirin therapy for the primary prevention of stroke in patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus who were at increased cardiovascular (CV) risk. Risk factors included patient age older than 40 years, a family history of CV disease, hypertension, smoking, dyslipidemia, or albuminuria. Aspirin therapy was not recommended for 


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patients younger than 30 years of age because no benefit had been demonstrated, and aspirin was contraindicated in patients under 21 years of age because of associated risk for Reye syndrome.[1]

Since the Antithrombotic Trialists’ Collaboration (ATT-C) published their first meta-analysis results in May 2009, questioning the value of low-dose aspirin for primary prevention, confusion has been expressed about when to recommend aspirin for patients with diabetes. The ATT-C performed a meta-analysis of 6 primary prevention trials, including 95,000 individuals with low-average CV risk and 16 secondary prevention trials with 17,000 individuals who had high CV risk. This analysis showed that primary prevention of vascular events with aspirin is of uncertain value, whereas the risk for major episodes of hemorrhage may increase.[2]

The ATT-C updated their recommendations for aspirin in primary prevention after considering the results from the POPADAD (Prevention of Progression of Arterial Disease and Diabetes),[3] JPAD (Japanese Primary Prevention of Atherosclerosis With Aspirin for Diabetes),[4] and AAA (Aspirin for Asymptomatic Atherosclerosis)[5] trials. They concluded that the benefit of aspirin appeared to outweigh its risks when used for secondary, but not primary, prevention.[6]

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