Pharmaceutical International News - October 2007
Aspirin Heart Benefits More Likely in Men
Posted by Paul Fiddian on 18/10/2007 - 13:54:26
Experts in Canada have suggested that the heart protection offered by aspirin could be more likely to take effect in men than women - their findings appearing in a BMC Medicine article. Aspirin has been highlighted in previous studies as potentially reducing the chance of a heart attack by 50 per cent. However, in a widespread assessment, in which 113,000 sets of patient data were analysed, it came to light that trials featuring predominantly female patients were less likely to produce evidence of benefits.
Despite this, the new study - which was carried out by the University of British Columbia's James Hogg iCapture Centre for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research - has been referred to as "potentially misleading" by one researcher in the UK.
In research, aspirin has been shown to restrict the development of the blood clots that result in heart attacks. To what extent it can prevent heart attacks, however, has not yet been established, leading some to suggest it may be of no benefit at all.
The Canadian team suggested this uncertainty regarding aspirin's performance could be attributed to issues of gender. They believe that the constitution of the female heart and the blood vessels surrounding could put up more of a defence against aspirin. The findings were elaborated on by one of those behind the report, Dr Don Sin, who stated: "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."
He continued: "From our findings we would caution clinicians on the prescribing of aspirin to women, especially for primary prevention of heart attacks. Whether or not other pharmaceutical products would be more effective for women is unclear; more sex-specific studies should now be conducted."
The chance is that this new research will not prove to be the definitive word on the issue of aspirin and heart benefits. Earlier this year, a study was undertaken in which 80,000 women took part. It alleged to have discovered that aspirin, if taken regularly, could offer heart benefits to women considered healthy.
However, aspirin, if taken over a long period of time, also heightens the chance of internal bleeding. For this reason, a number of doctors avoid recommending its use in patients who have had a previous heart attack.
An expert in the UK - Oxford University's Dr Colin Baigent - stated that no gender divide is apparent when aspirin is taken after the occurrence of a heart attack. Describing the Canadian trial as "potentially misleading", he added: "...by far the largest trial included in this research was concerned mainly with the primary prevention of heart attacks - giving aspirin to people who had never had a heart attack.
"It would be a tragedy if women who are taking it because they had already had a heart attack stop doing so."
Source - Pharmaceutical International's Health Reporter
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