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Many patients with coronary artery disease still fail to use aspirin therapy

DURHAM, N.C. Despite substantial evidence that aspirin saves lives and reduces the risk of heart attacks, a study conducted by Duke University Medical Center researchers indicated that, as of 1999, one in five people with coronary artery disease still did not take aspirin regularly.

In the study, published in the March 15, 2002, issue of the American Journal of Cardiology, 80.5 percent of patients questioned used aspirin in 1999. The 25,049 patients involved in the study, who were pulled from the Duke Databank for Cardiovascular Disease and had coronary artery disease diagnosed by angiography at Duke, were questioned on their aspirin use between 1995 and 1999.

While the 80.5 percent figure was a substantial increase from the 59.2 percent of patients using aspirin in 1995, Robert Califf, M.D, the study's lead author, said the percentage seen in the 1999 data was "disappointingly low" considering the wealth of information supporting aspirin's benefits in addition to it being inexpensive and available without prescription.

"Given the strong evidence for the benefit of aspirin combined with its low cost, the failure to achieve greater than 95 percent use of aspirin, or other antithrombotic therapy in this population, is disappointing. Adherence should have been greater," said Califf, who is director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute. He and his colleagues plan further studies to continue to follow the trend in aspirin use after 1999, the latest year for which data were available.

The study also showed that coronary artery disease patients who never used aspirin had nearly twice the risk of death (risk ratio of 1.85) than those patients who used aspirin, Califf noted.

Men were more likely than women to be taking aspirin, according to the study results. Higher use also was seen among younger patients, nonsmokers and patients with a prior heart attack or who underwent revascularization, a procedure in which clogged c
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Contact: Richard Puff
richard.puff@duke.edu
919-668-1889
Duke University Medical Center
8-Mar-2002


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