Diabetes sufferers should not routinely take aspirin to prevent heart attacks, research today suggested.

It had been argued that routine use of the drug could help prevent the risk of suffering a heart attack.

But new research conducted by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that people who showed no symptoms of heart disease, received no benefit after regularly taking aspirin.

But the research revealed that there were still groups of people who would benefit from taking aspirin.

The study found that aspirin benefited people who have already suffered a heart attack or stroke as the drug could reduce the risk of future related problems by a quarter.

The research, conducted by Professor Jill Belch of the Institute of Cardiovascular Research at Dundee University, warned that the drug was most effective if prescribed to people with more serious cardiovascular problems.

The report read: "A total of seven well controlled trials now show that aspirin has no benefit for primary prevention of cardiovascular events, even in people at higher risk.

"Although aspirin is cheap and universally available, practitioners and authors of guidelines need to heed the evidence that aspirin should be prescribed only in patients with established symptomatic cardiovascular disease."

The study involved more than 1,200 middle-aged patients with type one or type two diabetes.

Professor Belch told the Daily Mail: "If you're taking aspirin for secondary prevention because you've had a heart attack, or stroke, or have a circulatory problem, then it works.

"But it doesn't work if you have none of these problems and there is also no evidence for its use by healthy middle-aged people.

"We do not want people taking aspirin prescribed by their doctor to stop taking it without seeking medical advice. They may have conditions for which it is suitable."