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Although taking aspirin decreases the risk of heart attacks or strokes, a majority of women are not following therapy guidelines, according to a study appearing in the April 2012 edition of the Journal of Women’s Health.
The study analyzed self-reported aspirin use in women for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular events, and also looked at whether aspirin use changed over a 5-year period. Researchers gathered the results through a web-based risk assessment survey at 127 health care centers.
Of the 217,987 women who were included in the investigation, aspirin therapy was recommended for 29,701 according to evidence-based guidelines. Of these, 41% of the women who met criteria for primary prevention and 48% of the women who met criteria for secondary prevention reported taking aspirin on a daily basis, the study authors determined.
A family history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and high cholesterol were 2 factors that appeared to positively influence aspirin use among the women in the study. Although aspirin use remained the same for those using it as secondary prevention during the study, the results showed an increase in those using it for primary prevention.
“Public health initiatives aimed at promoting appropriate aspirin use may favorably impact cardiovascular disease event rates in a cost-effective manner, especially in the African American population,” the study authors stated. “An economic analysis of the impact of dispensing aspirin through pharmacies to patients with CVD is also an area of future research to address the underuse of this effective and inexpensive therapy.”
The study authors recommended education programs aimed at promoting aspirin use as a method of increasing adherence.
To help patients take a proactive approach to their cardiovascular health, pharmacists can consult “The Benefits of Low-Dose Aspirin,” available on the Pharmacy Times website http://phrmcyt.ms/M4xdny. In addition to providing an overview of current guidelines, the article presents important counseling points that pharmacists can use when discussing aspirin use with patients.