Are aspirin and/or fish oil helpful for diabetics? The ASCEND trial results show that low-dose aspirin and fish oil supplements have not resulted in significant clinical benefit.
The ASCEND (A Study of Cardiovascular Events in Diabetes) study included 15,480 diabetic patients with no known cardiovascular disease. Patients were started on 100 mg/day of enteric-coated aspirin or placebo and 1 gram/day of omega-3 fatty acid or a placebo. The patients were followed for 7 years.
This study was done as it is known that low-dose aspiring is supported for secondary prevention (those patients who have already had a cardiovascular event like a heart attack or a stroke) but it is NOT known if it helps in diabetics who have never had an event. In the end, low-dose aspirin decreased the risk of a serious vascular event by 1.1% compared with placebo, BUT it increased the risk of major bleeding by 0.9%.
What about fish oil? The ASCEND fish oil findings showed that omega-e fatty acid supplementation had no effect on the rate of serious vascular events.
There are two continuing trials, one called the REDUCE-IT trial and the STRENGTH trial, both of these have randomized trials of higher-dose fish oil supplementation to see its effect on secondary prevention.
I am forever reminded the adage that half of the information learned in medical school we later find out is wrong. The interesting part is waiting to find out WHICH half is wrong. I’ll keep you posted when new research is known…