Dr. Volgman explains if women should take an aspirin to protect their hearts.
Well, like everything else, it wasn’t until recently that we knew the data on aspirin and women. We have known for decades about men because there was this study done by Harvard on male doctors; it didn’t include one female doctor in that study.
It was called “The Physicians’ Health Study,” and so they surveyed these doctors, they asked them to take an aspirin, they asked them to take vitamins to see if it would decrease heart attacks and strokes, and what they found was vitamins didn’t do a thing, but the aspirin decreased their risks of heart attacks and decreased the risk of embolic stroke but not hemorrhagic stroke. It actually increased their risk a little bit of hemorrhagic stroke because aspirin tends to make people bleed.
But for women, we had no idea, not until the last few years did we know this, and the doctors at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital did a study on women and how much aspirin they needed, and what they gave them was 100 milligrams every other day, so 50 milligrams a day, and what they found was that it did not benefit women who had no risk factors unless they were over 65 years old.
A woman over the age of 65 greatly benefited, decreased the risk of heart attacks and strokes and dying by about 25 to 30%. So I am empowering women over the age of 65 years old to be taking a baby aspirin a day or 100 milligrams every other day. Now for women who have any risk factors or they’ve already had a heart attack or they have diabetes, at any age they need to be taking a baby aspirin.
So that’s the difference – a woman over the age of 65 at no risk or low risk should be taking it, and then women who are at any risk, intermediate or high risk, should be taking a baby aspirin, if not higher dose.
About Dr. Volgman, M.D., F.A.C.C.:
Annabelle S. Volgman is associate professor of medicine and medical director of the Heart Center for Women at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Dr. Volgman graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University, and received her medical doctorate degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York. She received her internal medicine training at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics and her cardiology fellowship training at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. She was a fellow in clinical electrophysiology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Illinois Masonic Medical Center under Richard Kehoe, M.D.
Dr. Volgman has published numerous abstracts and articles in multiple topics of women and heart disease as well as cardiac electrophysiology. She is currently president of the Metro Chicago Board of Directors of the AHA. She has been a prominent leader of the Go Red for Women movement and has received numerous awards from the American Heart Association. She has been listed in several lists of top doctors and was named a top doctor in the January 2008 issue of “Chicago Magazine.” She has been interviewed by numerous media about health issues and was featured in “O” magazine as Oprah Winfrey’s cardiologist.
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