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Quick Study

QUICK STUDY : A weekly digest of new research on major health topics

Tuesday, March 15, 2005; Page HE06


In middle-aged women, aspirin blocks stroke, not heart attack.

THE QUESTION What works for men does not always work for women. Does that hold true for small, daily doses of aspirin, which have been shown to help prevent heart attacks in men?

THIS STUDY randomly assigned 39,876 women aged 45 and older to take 100 milligrams of aspirin or a placebo every other day. After 10 years, women who took aspirin had roughly the same number of heart attacks as those who took the placebo. However, the aspirin group had 17 percent fewer strokes. Also, among women 65 and over, this group had 34 percent fewer heart attacks and 26 percent fewer major cardiovascular problems overall than the placebo group.

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WHO MAY BE AFFECTED BY THESE FINDINGS? Women. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women.

CAVEATS Of those who took aspirin, 542, or about 3 percent, had problems with ulcers (compared with 413 in the placebo group) and 910, or about 5 percent, had gastrointestinal bleeding (compared with 751). Whether a higher dose or more frequent use of aspirin would have improved the heart attack results remains unclear. Aspirin and placebos were provided by Bayer HealthCare; four of the eight authors have received grants or fees from Bayer.

BOTTOM LINE Women may want to talk with a doctor about whether low doses of aspirin would be appropriate for them.

FIND THIS STUDY March 31 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine; article available online at www.nejm.org.com(under "Early Release").

LEARN MORE ABOUT preventing cardiovascular disease at www.mayoclinic.comand www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health.

panic disorder

Talk therapy seems to help combat anxiety attacks.

THE QUESTION The feeling strikes suddenly and usually for no obvious reason, but the overwhelming fear that comes with a panic attack can be debilitating. Might therapy that targets people's thinking and behavior patterns help control the attacks?

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