Aspirin effective in preventing blood clots after surgery, study finds

A landmark study finds that aspirin works just as well as the blood thinner heparin at preventing blood clots in patients who have surgery for broken bones.

This could change the standard of care for these types of patients in the future. For example, patients who need surgery for fractures are usually given heparin to prevent blood clots for weeks after surgery, and the medicine needs to be injected.

The clinical trial findings were released at the Orthopaedic Trauma Association’s annual meeting in Florida on Thursday. The study was co-led by the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Major Extremity Trauma Research Consortium based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“We expect our findings from this large scale trial to have an important impact on clinical practice and potentially even change the standard of care,” said Dr. Robert V. O’Toole of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

More than 12,000 patients who needed surgery for broken arms, legs or pelvic fractures took part in the study over four years at 21 trauma centers in the U.S. and Canada. Half of those in the study were given aspirin, while the rest received heparin over 90 days.

The study’s main finding shows that aspirin is no worse than heparin at preventing death from any cause. According to the data, 47 patients that took aspirin died compared to 45 who took heparin.

“With data from more than 12,000 patients, this study provides clear evidence that aspirin is a viable option for preventing blood clots in the lung and death in patients who require surgery for orthopaedic trauma,” said Andrew Pollak, senior vice president and chief clinical officer for the University of Maryland Medical System.

The study is considered the largest ever conducted on orthopedic trauma patients.

Anne Kramer

Anne Kramer first joined WTOP as a freelance news anchor in 2022 before taking on the afternoon drive. Before coming to the Washington area, Anne spent 25 years working as a news anchor and reporter for WBAL Radio in Baltimore.

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