Heart Disease and Aspirin in Women
We hear a lot about the use of daily aspirin to
reduce the risk of heart attacks in men over age 40. But what about its benefits
for women? The American Heart Association (AHA) recently issued the following
recommendations for aspirin therapy based on a woman's level of risk for coronary
Studies in tens of thousands of women have demonstrated
aspirin's potential to prevent heart attacks and their adverse consequences.
The most compelling evidence comes from the Nurses' Health Study, one of the
first large-scale evaluations of the effect of aspirin on women. This study
found that women who regularly took aspirin reduced their risk of a heart attack
by 32%. Studies in men and women have shown that daily aspirin use may reduce
the risk of a second heart attack by 20% as well as may reduce the risk of death
by 15% in those who have previously suffered a heart attack or stroke. Aspirin
may also prevent death by up to 23% if taken when a heart attack is suspected
and then continued for 30 days afterwards.
Studies have found that doctors often fail to
prescribe aspirin, beta blockers and cholesterol lowering statin drugs to women
who suffer heart attacks, even though the medications have been shown to prevent
further heart attacks or other heart trouble. In fact, a recent study found
that women at highest risk of heart attack were least likely to be taking aspirin.
Like any medical therapy, aspirin is not appropriate
for everyone and may have side effects or adverse reactions of its own. Before
beginning a daily, preventive aspirin regimen, all adults are encouraged to
speak with their physicians. Relevant factors are a history of peptic ulcer,
liver or kidney disease; any bleeding disorders; gastrointestinal or rectal
bleeding; or taking blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin).
Created: 3/15/2004  - Donnica Moore, M.D.