January 18, 2006
New research shows that men and women taking aspirin to prevent heart disease will have completely different results.
It's a drug found in most medicine cabinets across the country.
But are its risks and benefits dependent on gender? According to a study by the American Medical Association, the answer is yes.
In 95,000 healthy patients with no prior heart problems, an aspirin a day reduced the risk of stroke in women by 17% with no reduction in heart attack.
But for men, the results were different and aspirin actually cut their heart attack risk by 32%, with no reduction in stroke.
It's probably healthy for anybody, male or female, who has risk factors for stroke or heart disease to take an aspirin a day as long as they ask their doctor," said Dr. Dearing Johns, with UVa's Cardiovascular Medicine Department.
Dr. Johns says even though the results didn't come as surprise, the information can still be helpful.
"It would be reasonable if after reading this study, doctors had a lower threshold and were more likely to give women who have never had a stroke an aspirin to prevent stroke," she said.
Some experts believe aspirin isn't the only drug that causes different responses from men and women.
There's evidence that some anti-depressants, some painkillers, and even anesthesia work differently in women as well.
Some experts believe the fact that women are smaller, have more body fat and tend to take more drugs, like birth control, might have something to do with the different responses.