Aspirin Stops Blood Clotting After Surgery, Doctors Find

( A new study suggests that aspirin could be just as effective as injections of blood thinners in reducing the risk of blood clots in post-op patients

Those who undergo surgery for broken limbs are often given low-molecular-weight heparin to prevent blood clots in their lungs or legs. But a new study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine found that aspirin could be just as effective at preventing blood clots and their related complications.

According to the author of the study, Dr. Robert O’Toole, the chief of orthopedics at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, heparin injections must be administered twice a day and cost much more than aspirin.

The study enrolled 12,211 patients recovering from surgery for arm or leg fractures as well as patients with pelvic fractures regardless of treatment. Half of the patients received heparin while the other half received a low dose of baby aspirin twice a day. The patients were followed for 90 days to see how each group fared.

In the end, the outcomes were similar in both groups, with no differences in death, blood clots in the lungs, bleeding complications, infection, or wound healing problems, the study found.

According to Dr. O’Toole, those in the aspirin group were more likely to develop blood clots below the knee, however, this type of blood clot is not considered as serious.

O’Toole said patients without insurance or the financial means to afford heparin are often put on aspirin and the results of the study should be “reassuring for those patients.”

According to Dr. O’Toole, there is ongoing research to determine whether the study’s findings also apply to those who are at a higher risk for developing blood clots after surgery.

The findings of the study appeared in the January 19 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

In an editorial accompanying the study, Oxford University orthopedic trauma professor Matthew Costa wrote that the findings were “good news for patients and good news for health care funding.”