80 ethnic minority participants needed for aspirin study

SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 10, 2012) — Can a simple intervention – a baby aspirin a day – extend the time that a senior citizen over the age of 65 is productive and free of disabilities? UT Medicine San Antonio physicians are conducting a clinical research study to answer this question.

UT Medicine is the clinical practice of the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.

The Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) study began in 2010 and has enrolled 100 subjects in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley. A sufficient number of Caucasian participants have enrolled, but more ethnic minorities — including Hispanics – are needed. “We are looking for at least another 80 healthy subjects in South Texas and are concentrating our efforts solely on ethnic minorities,” said geriatrician Sara Espinoza, M.D., ASPREE’s lead investigator.

Dr. Espinoza, professor of geriatrics in the School of Medicine, is an investigator with the Center for Healthy Aging. This center is part of the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies at the Health Science Center. Among its goals, the Center for Healthy Aging will be a world leader in testing new drugs that impact the biological process of aging.

Aspirin, which is inexpensive and widely available, is often prescribed to prevent events such as heart attacks and strokes in otherwise healthy people. Studies have shown it may prevent cognitive decline. However, aspirin is also known to have adverse effects such as bleeding that may outweigh its benefits. The ASPREE study will determine whether the potential benefits of low-dose aspirin outweigh the risks for people age 65 and older.

The study is randomized and blinded. This means participants are randomly assigned to either a treatment group taking aspirin or a control group taking an inactive placebo and are not notified of their assignment. Participants must be healthy and not taking aspirin for another reason.

There is no cost to subjects, who will be asked to make eight visits to UT Medicine over a seven-year period. Reimbursement for subjects’ time is in the form of supermarket gift cards.

“We do assessments that participants might not get elsewhere, including four or five cognitive batteries and assessments of frailty, such as grip strength and walking speed,” Dr. Espinoza said. “We also ask questions about physical disability and its effect on their daily living and quality of life. These assessments can be taken to their doctor for review.”

To inquire about eligibility for the ASPREE study, call 1-877-524-3265. In addition to San Antonio, participants are being recruited and evaluated in Harlingen at the UT Health Science Center – Regional Academic Health Center.

ASPREE is being conducted in clinics and universities in Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas. More information can be found at www.ASPREE.org.

This work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging, 1 U01AG029824, to Dr. Espinoza, principal investigator.

UT Medicine San Antonio is the clinical practice of the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. With more than 700 doctors – all faculty from the School of Medicine – UT Medicine is the largest medical practice in Central and South Texas, with expertise in more than 60 different branches of medicine. Primary care doctors and specialists see patients in private practice at UT Medicine’s clinical home, the Medical Arts & Research Center (MARC), located in the South Texas Medical Center at 8300 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio 78229. Most major health plans are accepted, and there are clinics and physicians at several local and regional hospitals, including CHRISTUS Santa Rosa, University Hospital and Baptist Medical Center. Call (210) 450-9000 to schedule an appointment, or visit the Web site at www.UTMedicine.org for a complete listing of clinics and phone numbers.

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