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Study: aspirin may be as good as warfarin for most heart failure patients

For patients with heart failure, but normal heart rhythm, aspirin may be just as good as a heavy duty blood-thinner.

That’s the finding of a new study published online today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Washington University chief of cardiology Douglas Mann was on the study’s steering committee.

Mann says overall, there was no difference in the combined risk of stroke, brain hemorrhage, and death in patients taking aspirin and those taking the blood thinner warfarin.

“There may be specific subgroups that may benefit from warfarin, and we’re beginning to try to explore them now,” Mann said. “For example, it may be better in younger people, or it may be better in men, or it may be better in women — we’re trying to really understand if there are specific differences.”

Mann says even though warfarin prevents strokes better than aspirin, it increases the risk of major bleeding.

“However, some of the newer drugs that are easier to give and have less bleeding risk may be the way to go,” Mann said. “So I don’t think the story’s over. I think that warfarin opens the door to future trials to address this.”

Mann says that until those newer drugs can be tested, aspirin seems to be a better choice for most heart failure patients.