In 2005, a landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicinel refocused the issue of women’s heart health. The ten-year study definitively showed that aspirin does not protect women against heart attacks. Whereas aspirin helps prevent heart attacks in men, in postmenopausal women, when the chances of suffering a heart attack are more pronounced, aspirin is less effective. It does, however, significantly cut women’s risk of suffering a stroke, the risk of which increases among women over the age of 65.
The results of this long-awaited study followed nearly 40,000 women for ten years, and provide new evidence to the growing body of data that gender differences play a significant role in heart disease. Thus, inflammation figures more prominently among women than men, among whom the traditional risk factors are nearly equally predominant.
The results of the study are equivocal, as several caveats are inherent in the study. For instance, the benefits of aspirin use did not vary among women whether or not they used hormones after menopause, and the benefits were greater for nonsmokers and former smokers. By the same token, no clear-cut conclusion could be drawn for aspirin therapy for younger, otherwise healthy women. This implies that the use of aspirin is an individual decision, and those considering taking aspirin should talk with their physicians about the relative risks.
Stomach or intestinal bleeding is the most common risk associated with regular aspirin usage. Further, as the study showed, women taking aspirin also suffered more from bleeding strokes. It is because of this and other considerations that a majority of men and women shy away from regularly taking aspirin, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
The issue of side effects with standard therapies has also been highlighted by recent findings for an array of drugs. Which has increased the need and demand for alternative approaches to help prevent chronic and age-related diseases including heart attacks and strokes.
By supporting the physiological processes, systemic enzymes exert their benefits unobtrusively in contrast to some of the harsher pharmaceutical approaches. Thus, whereas plant-derived proteases quench the inflammatory fires, pancreatin, trypsin and chymotrypsin help rid the body of cross-linked fibrin, which can seed clot formation.
1. Ridker et al., “Randomized Trial of Low-Dose Aspirin in the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Women,” New England Journal of Medicine: 352, 13, 2005
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