ASCEND (A Study of Cardiovascular Events iN Diabetes) is a randomised trial looking at the effects of aspirin and of omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) in people with diabetes. ASCEND has recruited 15,500 people with diabetes (either type 1 or type 2) who did not have known vascular disease or recent cancer when they started the trial, and these people have been randomly allocated to take 100mg aspirin daily or placebo (dummy) and 1 gram capsules containing naturally occurring omega-3 fatty acids ("fish-oils") or placebo capsules containing olive oil. ASCEND should provide the first reliable evidence about the effects of aspirin and of omega-3 fatty acids in diabetes both for preventing heart disease and strokes and also for cancer prevention. If favourable results emerge, this could lead to the widespread use of these treatments in diabetes, and possible prevention of large numbers of heart attacks, strokes and cancers.
Funding for the study has been secured from the British Heart Foundation, packaged aspirin and matching placebo is being provided by Bayer AG and packaged omega-3 fatty acid supplements and matching placebo capsules by Mylan (and formerly from Abbott Pharmaceuticals and before that from Solvay).