The Women's Health Study found that aspirin did not prevent first heart attacks or death from cardiovascular causes in women. Low-dose aspirin (100 mg on alternate days) lowered the incidence of a first major cardiovascular event (nonfatal heart attack, non-fatal stroke, or death from cardiovascular causes) by 9 percent. This was not statistically significant. Stroke was 17 percent lower in the aspirin group, a statistically significant difference. The findings of the study will be presented at the American College of Cardiology's (ACC) annual meeting in Orlando, FL and also published online in The New England Journal of Medicine March 7, 2005 and in print in the March 31 issue.
The greatest benefit appeared to be in women 65 and older. In this sub-group, low-dose aspirin reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events by 26 percent. However, the benefits of low-dose aspirin therapy must be weighed against the risk of an increased chance of internal bleeding, a well-known side effect of aspirin use.
The bottom line is that many women, especially those 65 and older, may benefit from taking low-dose aspirin every other day to prevent stroke. But it is important for women to weigh the risk and benefits of taking aspirin and to consult with their doctor.
Above all, women, like men, should adopt the well-proven approaches that reduce the risk of heart disease eating for heart health,
Contact: NHBLI Communications Office
NIH/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute