For years we criticized heart researchers for not including women in the early studies that recommended aspirin to prevent heart disease.  We asked:  How can you recommend aspirin in women when all the studies took place in males!  In 2007, after additional studies that included females, the American Heart Association released guidelines for the CVD preventive care in women including aspirin. Their recommendations:

  • Primary prevention (other at-risk or healthy women):   Consider aspirin therapy in women >65 years if blood pressure is well-controlled and benefit for ischemic stroke and myocardial infarction prevention is likely to outweigh the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke.
  • Secondary prevention (high risk):  Aspirin therapy should be used in high-risk women (established coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral arterial disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm, end-stage or chronic renal disease, diabetes, and 10-year Framingham risk>20%) unless contraindicated.

A recent study, using a web-based risk assessment tool found that the majority of women for whom aspirin is recommended were not following national guidelines.  The authors led by Cathleen Rivera, MD at Scott and White Healthcare in Texas concluded that there is a need for more education about aspirin among clinicians and women for increased prevention of heart disease.  Given the rising direct and indirect costs of cardiovascular disease, it makes sense that health care providers take a closer, serious look at the increased use of low cost aspirin in lieu of designer heart meds.!

Source:  Rivera C, Song J, Copeland L et al.  Journal of Women's Health, Vol. 21, 2012.

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Comments

This is an interesting and informative article. Thank you for the post. I have heard about the use of aspirin to help prevent heart attacks but didn't realize the initials studies were based on male participants. And now based on this I see that us females don't follow the typical guidelines that have been set. These are interesting facts. Now that we know there is an issue regarding the knowledge of the use of aspirin, the next question is...in what manner to we go about informing. Knowing the positive impact of physical activity and healthy body weight and nutrition, I wonder if encouraging clinicians to promote the use of aspirin as well as implementing an daily form of exercise and quality nutrition will help make a significant impact on women's health. My hope being is that we stop avoiding the truth behind what causes the majority of heart related problems and stop using medication alone to treat health issues.

Informative article for women heart diseases. You have mentioned enough but it needs some more research on effects of aspirin therapy in women.

Great little post. While definitely more research is required to define these guidelines it is important for those who truly want to prevent or reverse heart disease to focus on lifestyle changes. Our focus is mostly on what medication will work best, the best medications being the ones that are safe, painless and with no side effects. What I am talking about is exercise is your medicine; nutrition can be your pharmacy and stress management is your ticket to great heart health.

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