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Heart Disease Health Center

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Why Aren't Women Taking Aspirin for Heart?

Less Than Half of Women With Heart Disease Use Daily Aspirin Therapy
WebMD Health News

Feb. 18, 2005 -- More than half of women with heart disease don't take aspirin to help their hearts, a new study shows.

That disappoints researcher Jeffrey Berger, MD, chief resident at New York's Beth Israel Medical Center. "To find such low numbers was quite discouraging," he says in a news release.

The American Heart Association recommends aspirin as a prevention for people who have had or are at high risk of a heart attack, angina, or stroke.

The results of the study may be discouraging, but perhaps not totally unexpected. Last June, a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that women at high risk for heart disease were less likely than men to take aspirin for heart disease by a margin of 46% to 59%.

In Berger's study, 46% of women with a known history of heart disease were taking low-dose aspirin for their hearts. The other women were missing out on one of the least costly, most available medicines for their hearts.

"Ideally, the percentage of women with a known history of [heart] disease who take aspirin should be above 90%," says Berger in the news release.

Disappointing Data

Berger and colleagues studied aspirin use among women with heart disease. Information came from the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study, which included nearly 100,000 postmenopausal women across America.

The researchers focused on almost 9,000 women with a history of heart disease, which included heart attack and stroke. They reported their findings in Orlando at the Second International Conference on Women, Heart Disease, and Stroke.

Participants included 1,364 women who had suffered a stroke. Only 43% of them were on aspirin therapy. The study also included 2,230 female heart attack survivors. A little more than half of those women (54%) were taking aspirin for their hearts.

Which Women Take Aspirin?

Women were more likely to take aspirin for heart disease if they were older, college educated, white, and lived in the Northeast. The likelihood dropped for women who used Medicaid insurance, were black, or lived in the South or West.

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