The results of a trial presented at the European Anaesthesiology Congress in Paris have shown that taking aspirin for five days before a heart operation can reduce the instance of post-operative acute renal failure by as much as 50 per cent.
Damage to the kidneys is a common and troublesome post-operative side effect of cardiac surgery, having a considerable adverse effect on survival rates of heart patients.
"It significantly increases hospital stay, the incidence of other complications and mortality," explained Professor Jianzhong Sun of the Jefferson Medical Center at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia. "From previous reports, up to 30 per cent of patients who undergo cardiac surgery developed acute renal failure. In our studies, about 16-40 per cent of cardiac surgery patients developed it in various degrees, depending upon how their kidneys were functioning before the operation."
"Despite intensive studies we don’t understand yet why kidney failure can develop after cardiac surgery, but possible mechanisms could involve inflammatory and neurohormonal factors, reduced blood supply, reperfusion injury, kidney toxicity and/or their combinations," Professor Sun, who led the study, went on.
A total of 3,219 patients undergoing a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), valve surgery, or both were surveyed. Of these, 2,247 were taking aspirin within the period five days prior to their operation and the remainder were not.
After modifying the results to account for variables such as age, disease, and other medication, it was found that taking aspirin before surgery corresponded to a notable reduction in the incidence of post-operative acute kidney failure. While 6.7 per cent of those not taking aspirin suffered acute kidney failure, just 3.8 per cent of those who did take aspirin were affected.
The team believe that, although further randomised controlled trials are necessary, the usefulness of aspirin in this regard could also extend to non-cardiac surgeries.
"For many years, aspirin as an anti-platelet and anti-inflammatory agent has been one of the major medicines in prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease in non-surgical settings," commented Professor Sun. "Now its applications have spread to surgical fields, including cardiac surgery, and further, to non-cardiovascular diseases, such as the prevention of cancer," he said. "Looking back and ahead, I believe we can say that aspirin is really a wonder drug, and its wide applications and multiple benefits are truly beyond what we could expect and certainly worthy of further studies both in bench and bedside research."