Aspirin May Protect Against Staph Blood Infections

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Taking a daily low-dose aspirin has been shown to reduce the risk for heart attack and stroke, and possibly the risk for certain cancers. Now researchers have found another possible benefit: protection against dying from a Staphylococcus aureus blood infection.

Swiss scientists followed 838 cases of S. aureus infection from 2001 through 2013. From the group, they selected 157 who were taking aspirin and matched them with 157 controls, similar in age, severity of infection, treatments undergone and various other health and behavioral characteristics, but who were not taking low-dose aspirin. The study is in Critical Care Medicine.

At the end of 30 days, 27.4 percent of the controls had died, but only 12.1 percent of those on aspirin had died. After controlling for other factors, taking low-dose aspirin was associated with a 42 percent lower risk of death.

The authors did a similar analysis with 134 aspirin users with E. coli infection and 134 controls, but found no effect of aspirin on infection with that germ.

“This is a retrospective study that finds an association, not causality,” said the lead author, Dr. Michael Osthoff, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Basel. “There may still be factors we haven’t controlled for. It’s too early to tell everyone with S. aureus infection to take aspirin. There are downsides to taking aspirin, too.”