Aspirin Won't Prevent 1st Heart Attack in Women
Low-Dose Aspirin Reduces Stroke in Women, but Vitamin E Has No Benefit
Weighing the Risks of Aspirin Therapy
For people who have had heart attacks, low-dose (81 mg-325 mg) aspirin is
still recommended as a way to reduce risk of second heart attacks. "And
that recommendation is for men and women," she says. Also, for someone
having a heart attack -- man or woman -- the recommendation is still to take an
aspirin to limit the damage of the attack.
Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart attack and stroke, is a leading
cause of death in the U.S. Heart disease is responsible for more than 900,000
deaths annually in the U.S. Aspirin can stop blood clots from forming, and
block blood flow to the heart and brain, which can cause heart attacks and
Otherwise, Ridker and Buring say that the decision to take aspirin
"should be a decision between a woman and her doctor, who can weigh the
risks and benefits."
For women over the age of 65, it appears that the benefit of stroke
prevention with aspirin's use may outweigh the risk of bleeding, says Buring.
Not surprisingly, given the increased bleeding risk associated with aspirin
use, women taking aspirin had more gastrointestinal bleeding episodes than
women taking the placebo.
American Heart Association's Take
The American Heart Association responded to the study findings with the
following statement pointing to their guidelines for aspirin use:
"These guidelines included recommendations for aspirin use among women
at varying levels of risk, and advised that the routine use of aspirin in
low-risk women was not recommended pending the results of ongoing
Lori Mosca, MD, chair of the AHA's writing group for the guidelines, says
the results of this study support the recommendations. She explains that while
the new study results show a benefit for aspirin therapy in healthy women aged
65 or older, "we will have to balance this benefit with the risk of serious
gastrointestinal bleeding and the potential for increasing hemorrhagic
Robert Harrington, MD, Duke University School of Medicine, tells WebMD that
the study results provide guidance for women and their physicians. "The
message is clear, aspirin does reduce stroke in women aged 65 or older, so we
need to talk about prophylactic aspirin use in our women patients in that age
The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.