These findings are important because they provide a scientific basis for recommending that more postmenopausal women should take aspirin, the researchers said. In their analysis of 8,928 women, the researchers found that fewer than half were taking any aspirin at all.
"The fact that more women are not taking aspirin is very discouraging," said Duke cardiology fellow Jeffrey Berger, M.D., who presented the results of his analysis on Nov. 14, 2005, at the annual scientific sessions of the American Heart Association in Dallas. "Aspirin is a drug that has been used for many years it is effective, inexpensive and widely available.
"We know that aspirin can save the lives of postmenopausal women with cardiovascular disease, so the percentage of those women taking aspirin should be in the high 90 percent," Berger continued. "The only reason for these women not to be taking aspirin is if they have an allergy or suffer severe side effects."
For his study, Berger analyzed the data collected by the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study, a National Institutes of Health-funded project that has been following 93,676 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 to 79 since 1994. The women participating in the study were not required to take any medications, nor were they asked to change their health habits.
Of that large cohort of women, Berger identified 8,928 women who had cardiovascular disease, including women who had suffered a heart attack, stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA or mini-stroke), or who had cardiac chest pain or a prior procedure to open clogged coronary arteries. During the 6.5 years of the study, 8.7 percent of the
Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center