Aspirin -- just for men?

October 18, 2007

First it was an apple, now it is an aspirin a day that may keep the doctor away. Aspirin has become standard for heart attack prevention, but research published in the online open access journal BMC Medicine suggests that this may really be a man's drug.

Scientists have long puzzled over why the protective effects of aspirin vary so widely between clinical trials. Some trials show no difference between aspirin and placebo, whilst others report that aspirin reduces the risk of a heart attack by more than 50%.

This latest study, from The James Hogg iCAPTURE Centre for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research, highlights the influence of gender on aspirin's protective powers. Investigators examined the results of 23 previously published clinical trials for the effect for aspirin in heart attack prevention, involving more than 113,000 patients. The authors then analysed how much the ratio of men to women in these trials affected the trials' outcomes.

"Trials that recruited predominantly men demonstrated the largest risk reduction in non-fatal heart attacks," says Dr Don Sin, one of the study's authors. "The trials that contained predominately women failed to demonstrate a significant risk reduction in these non-fatal events. We found that a lot of the variability in these trials seems to be due to the gender ratios, supporting the theory that women may be less responsive to aspirin than men for heart protection."

The mechanisms of this resistance are not yet understood, although recent studies have shown that men and women have major differences in the structure and physiology of the heart's blood vessels.

"From our findings we would caution clinicians on the prescribing aspirin to women, especially for primary prevention of heart attacks," says Dr Sin. "Whether or not other pharmaceutical products would be more effective for women is unclear; more sex-specific studies should now be conducted."

Source: BioMed Central

Explore further: Migraine linked to increased risk of cardiovascular problems

Related Stories

Migraine linked to increased risk of cardiovascular problems

February 1, 2018
Migraine is associated with increased risks of cardiovascular problems (conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels) including heart attacks, stroke, blood clots and an irregular heart rate, say researchers in a study ...

Which medicines don't go well with flying?

January 17, 2018
Every day, more than 10 million people take a flight somewhere in the world. While flying is relatively safe, the unique environmental conditions can put passengers at risk if they're taking certain medications.

Which fetal size standard should be used for diagnosing a small- or large-for-gestational-age fetus

February 7, 2018
In this special supplement to the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology (AJOG) leading experts describe six fetal growth size standards in current use and discuss their strengths and limitations.

Under Affordable Care Act, Americans have had more preventive care for heart health

November 27, 2017
By reducing out-of-pocket costs for preventive treatment, the Affordable Care Act appears to have encouraged more people to have health screenings related to their cardiovascular health, a UCLA study found. Comparing figures ...

Women at greater risk after heart attacks: study

January 8, 2018
Fewer women who suffer a heart attack each year in the UK would die if they were simply given the same treatments as men, according to new research.

Aspirin may temper brain power decline in elderly women at risk of heart disease

October 3, 2012
Daily low dose aspirin could slow the decline in brain power among elderly women at high risk of heart disease, indicates observational research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Recommended for you

Opioid addiction treatment behind bars reduced post-incarceration overdose deaths in RI

February 14, 2018
A treatment program for opioid addiction launched by the Rhode Island Department of Corrections was associated with a significant drop in post-incarceration drug overdose deaths and contributed to an overall drop in overdose ...

Heroin vaccine blocks lethal overdose

February 14, 2018
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have achieved a major milestone toward designing a safe and effective vaccine to both treat heroin addiction and block lethal overdose of the drug. Their research, published ...

Study shows NIH spent >$100 billion on basic science for new medicines

February 12, 2018
Federally funded research contributed to the science underlying all new medicines approved by the FDA over the past six years, according to a new study by Bentley University.

Opioid use increases risk of serious infections

February 12, 2018
Opioid users have a significantly increased risk of infections severe enough to require treatment at the hospital, such as pneumonia and meningitis, as compared to people who don't use opioids.

Placebo pills prescribed honestly help cancer survivors manage symptoms

February 9, 2018
Long after cancer treatment ends, many continue to deal with one particular symptom that refuses to go away: fatigue. In a new study, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Harvard Medical School have ...

Multinational companies continue to produce unregulated antibiotics in India

February 5, 2018
Millions of unapproved antibiotics are being sold in India, according to a new study by researchers at Queen Mary University of London and Newcastle University.

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Keter
5 / 5 (1) Oct 18, 2007
That there is a gender bias for anticoagulant effectiveness is not all that surprising -- men are less likely to die from hemorrhaging during childbirth. ;o)
tswogger
not rated yet Nov 01, 2007
What about current diabetics? The UKPDS and many other published studies suggest that diabetics should have aspirin as primary prevention of future cardiac complications, if appropriate for the patient.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.