Taking an aspirin a day to prevent heart disease may be a good idea - if you?re a man.
Research shows that women are four times as likely to be resistant to aspirin?s blood-thinning effects. That means you may just end up with an irritated, bleeding stomach. However, it could be much worse. New evidence suggests you?ll also increase your risk for heart disease. Fortunately, there?s an easy way to find out whether you should avoid aspirin or not.
Pharmacist Michael Dorsch headed a study funded by the National Institutes of Health to study aspirin?s affect on heart disease. He wanted to see whether people with a history of heart attacks are more likely to be resistant to aspirin than people with heart disease who had never had a heart attack.
The research team found that aspirin?s effectiveness had nothing to do with a history of heart disease. But it had a lot to do with gender. We?ve seen other studies in the past that found aspirin was ineffective for some people. But it took this study to find the key: Aspirin doesn?t thin the blood in a full 25% of women who take it. Talk about false security!
What?s worse, most doctors prescribe aspirin to their patients without ever checking them for aspirin resistance. Like you, they?re assuming it will work. Instead, they could use the same device that Michael Dorsch and his team used: the VerifyNow Aspirin Assay by Accumetrics.
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This one-step blood test, which is covered by Medicare and most private insurance companies, can be done in a doctor?s office in five minutes. It measures how well a person?s blood clots in the presence of aspirin. Your doctor can order the device through Accumetrics (www.accumetrics.com
). If your doctor doesn?t do this test yet, download and print the brochure from this website and give it to him or her.
Before you continue taking an aspirin a day, make sure it?s working for you. Otherwise, you?re at risk for both its side effects and a heart attack or stroke.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
Dorsch, M., PharmD, "Aspirin resistance in patients with stable coronary artery disease," Annals of Pharmacotherapy, April 27, 2007.