Quantifying the Effects of Prior Acetyl-Salicylic Acid on Sepsis-Related Deaths: An Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis Using Propensity Matching*

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The primary objective was to conduct a meta-analysis on published observational cohort data describing the association between acetyl-salicylic acid (aspirin) use prior to the onset of sepsis and mortality in hospitalized patients.

Study Selection:

Studies that reported mortality in patients on aspirin with sepsis with a comparison group of patients with sepsis not on prior aspirin therapy were included.

Data Sources:

Fifteen studies described hospital-based cohorts (n = 17,065), whereas one was a large insurance-based database (n = 683,421). Individual-level patient data were incorporated from all selected studies.

Data Extraction:

Propensity analyses with 1:1 propensity score matching at the study level were performed, using the most consistently available covariates judged to be associated with aspirin. Meta-analyses were performed to estimate the pooled average treatment effect of aspirin on sepsis-related mortality.

Data Synthesis:

Use of aspirin was associated with a 7% (95% CI, 2–12%; p = 0.005) reduction in the risk of death as shown by meta-analysis with considerable statistical heterogeneity (I2 = 61.6%).


These results are consistent with effects ranging from a 2% to 12% reduction in mortality risk in patients taking aspirin prior to sepsis onset. This association anticipates results of definitive studies of the use of low-dose aspirin as a strategy for reduction of deaths in patients with sepsis.

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