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Aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in women: does sex matter?

Joseph Hung
Med J Aust 2006; 184 (6): 260-261.
Published online: 20 March 2006

Recommendations for primary prevention in women need to be different

The efficacy of low-dose aspirin for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease among men and women is established.1,2 However, the risk-to-benefit ratio for aspirin in primary prevention is much less clear.2,3 The National Heart Foundation has recommended that low-dose aspirin be considered for people without symptoms but at increased (> 1% annual) risk of a coronary heart disease event.4 This recommendation is based on earlier primary prevention trials, with over 55 000 participants, showing a significant 32% reduction in the risk of myocardial infarction, but no significant change in risk of stroke or cardiovascular death.3 However, women comprised only 20% of trial participants, and fewer than 180 of the 2402 cardiovascular events occurred in women.3,5 Until recently, there has been limited direct evidence for the efficacy of aspirin in primary prevention among women.

  • Joseph Hung

  • University of Western Australia, Perth, WA.

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