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Am J Med. 2006 Aug;119(8):624-38.

Systematic review and meta-analysis of adverse events of low-dose aspirin and clopidogrel in randomized controlled trials.

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Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, Ca 94121, USA.



We performed a systematic review to define the relative and absolute risk of clinically relevant adverse events with the antiplatelet agents, aspirin and clopidogrel.


Databases were searched for randomized controlled trials of low-dose aspirin (75-325 mg/day) or clopidogrel administered for cardiovascular prophylaxis. Relative risks (RR) were determined by meta-analysis of 22 trials for aspirin versus placebo and from single studies for aspirin versus clopidogrel, aspirin versus aspirin/clopidogrel, and clopidogrel versus aspirin/clopidogrel. Absolute risk increase was calculated by multiplying RR increase by the pooled weighted incidence of the control.


Aspirin increased the risk of major bleeding (RR=1.71; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.41-2.08), major gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding (RR=2.07; 95% CI, 1.61-2.66), and intracranial bleeding (RR=1.65; 95% CI, 1.06-5.99) versus placebo. No difference between 75-162.5 mg/day and >162.5-325 mg/day aspirin versus placebo was seen. The absolute annual increases attributable to aspirin were major bleeding: 0.13% (95% CI, 0.08-0.20); major GI bleeding: 0.12% (95% CI, 0.07-0.19), intracranial bleeding: 0.03% (95% CI, 0.01-0.08). No study compared clopidogrel with placebo. One study showed increased major GI bleeding (but not non-GI bleeding endpoints) with aspirin versus clopidogrel (RR=1.45; 95% CI, 1.00-2.10). The absolute annual increase was 0.12% (95% CI, 0.00-0.28).


Low-dose aspirin increases the risk of major bleeding by approximately 70%, but the absolute increase is modest: 769 patients (95% CI, 500-1250) need to be treated with aspirin to cause one additional major bleeding episode annually. Compared with clopidogrel, aspirin increases the risk of GI bleeding but not other bleeding; however, 883 patients (95% CI, 357-infinity) would need to be treated with clopidogrel versus aspirin to prevent one major GI bleeding episode annually at a cost of over 1 million dollars.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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