Tuesday, January 24, 2006—According to lead author, Anne B. Newman, M.D., M.P.H., professor of epidemiology and medicine, GSPH, aspirin therapy should be better targeted to high-risk individuals.

In recent years, regular aspirin use by older adults to prevent heart disease has increased, particularly among those at high risk, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) and others. However, the study, published in the November issue of the American Journal of Medicine, found that African Americans and diabetics -- two groups that could benefit most from preventive aspirin therapy -- are under-represented in this trend.

The University of Pittsburgh investigators, along with collaborators from medical centers around the U.S. and in Europe, measured regular aspirin use among 2,163 African American and Caucasian older adults without cardiovascular disease in the late 1990s and again between 2002 and 2003. They also determined 10-year heart disease risk scores for all participants.

During 1997 and 1998, 17 percent of the participants were regular aspirin users. Aspirin use increased with their risk of heart disease, from 13 percent in those with a 10-year low-risk profile to 23 percent in those with a 10-year high-risk profile. However, blacks were less likely to use aspirin (13 percent) than whites (20 percent). Between 1997 and 1998 and 2002 and 2003, aspirin use almost doubled (from 17 percent to 32 percent) among those still free of coronary heart disease. However, despite their particularly high heart disease risk, diabetics were not more likely to use aspirin than nondiabetic individuals, even in 2002 and 2003.

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