Aspirin in Women May

Cut Heart Problems

Post-menopausal women with cardiovascular disease who took the minimal recommended dosage of aspirin as part of their treatment had a lower risk of dying, new research shows.

Patients who took aspirin had 17 percent fewer deaths among 8,928 women with cardiovascular disease who were followed in the Women's Health Initiative study, according to results that will be presented today at an American Heart Association conference in Dallas.

Study author Jeffrey Berger said it is "very discouraging" that only 46 percent of women in the study used aspirin, even though the common painkiller has long been linked to a lower risk of heart attack and clot-related strokes.

"Aspirin is still very effective, even with today's other medications," said Berger, a cardiology fellow at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

Berger said he hopes the study's findings will encourage more physicians to recommend aspirin. Death rates were similar among women who took 81-milligram or 325-milligram doses.

New Moms at Risk

For Fatal Blood Clots

New moms should get up and start walking as soon as possible to prevent the risk of a potentially fatal blood clot, doctors advise.

Although the chances of such clots are rare, they are four times as great for pregnant women and new mothers, a large 30-year study found, confirming what doctors have long observed.

Mayo Clinic researchers looked at medical records from 1966 to 1995 of 50,000 pregnant women who lived in Olmsted County, Minn., where data have long been gathered for a long-term health surveillance project.

The researchers focused on blood clots in leg veins -- deep vein thrombosis -- and clots that broke loose and lodged in the lungs -- pulmonary embolism.

Cases of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism were few -- only 105 over the 30-year period -- but the problem is of concern because it is frequently fatal when it happens.

In about one-fourth of pulmonary embolism cases, the first and only symptom is sudden death, said John A. Heit, lead author of the study appearing in today's Annals of Internal Medicine.

Eating Out Linked to

Risk Factors in Kids

Children who eat out frequently have higher blood pressure, cholesterol and other heart risk factors than children fed home-cooked meals more often, researchers reported yesterday.

The study of more than 600 school-age children found that 20 percent ate out four or more times a week, not including the school cafeteria.

Those children, compared with their peers who ate out less, had higher blood pressure, unhealthier cholesterol levels, and worse blood sugar metabolism -- a precursor to Type 2 diabetes. They also ate more starch, sugar, salt, fat and cholesterol, the researchers told a meeting of the American Heart Association in Dallas.

"We are seeing younger and younger patients with more aggressive cardiovascular disease, and we realized we needed to take a closer look at our young people to see when risk factors emerge and why," said Karen Olson, director of the Cardiovascular Research and Education Foundation in Wausau, Wis., who led the study.

Children who are taken out to eat more often may also be fed more fast food and junk food at home, Olson said.

-- From News Services