Aspirin appears to slow early emphysema

by Bruce Sylvester: Aspirin use might slow progression of early emphysema, researchers reported on May 17, 2015 at American Thoracic Society International Conference.

“Other than smoking cessation and avoidance, there are no known methods for reducing the risk of developing emphysema,” said researcher Carrie Aaron MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. “In our large general population sample, we found that regular aspirin use [three or more days per week] was associated with a slower progression of percent emphysema on computed tomography [CT] scans over 10 years.”

The investigators evaluated data on 4,471 subjects from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis Lung Study. They assessed percentage of lung volume with emphysematous features on up to 4 CT scans performed over approximately 10 years. They evaluated spirometry data for 81% of  the subjects.

Of the 4,471 subjects, 21% (921) used aspirin regularly, 55% were ever-smokers, and 25% of those with spirometry showed airflow obstruction.

The investigators found that regular aspirin use associated with a statistically significantly slower progression of percent emphysema over ten years, compared to aspirin non-use, after adjustment for  confounding factors such as age, sex, race/ethnicity, cigarettes/day, pack-years, and hypertension.

“Our study found that persons taking aspirin regularly had a slower progression of emphysema over 10 years compared to those who did not, and that this difference was not explained by many factors that we believe affect progression of emphysema.” said Dr. Aaron. “The findings might suggest that regular aspirin use may slow the progression of subclinical emphysema, perhaps through effects on platelet activation or inflammation.”