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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The influence of gender on the effects of aspirin in preventing myocardial infarction

Todd Yerman, Wen Q Gan and Don D Sin*

Author Affiliations

Department of Medicine (Respiratory Division), University of British Columbia, and The James Hogg iCAPTURE Center for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research, St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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BMC Medicine 2007, 5:29  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-5-29

Published: 18 October 2007

Abstract

Background

There is considerable variation in the effect of aspirin therapy reducing the risk of myocardial infarction (MI). Gender could be a potential explanatory factor for the variability. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine whether gender mix might play a role in explaining the large variation of aspirin efficacy across primary and secondary MI prevention trials.

Methods

Randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials that examined the efficacy of aspirin therapy on MI were identified by using the PUBMED database (1966 to October 2006). Weighted linear regression technique was used to determine the relationship between log-transformed relative risk (RR) of MI and the percentage of male participants in each trial. The reciprocal of the standard error of the RR in each trial (1/SE) was used as the weight.

Results

A total of 23 trials (n = 113 494 participants) were identified. Overall, compared with placebo, aspirin reduced the risk of non-fatal MI (RR = 0.72, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.64–0.81, p < 0.001) but not of fatal MI (RR = 0.88, 95% CI 0.75–1.03, p = 0.120). A total of 27% of the variation in the non-fatal MI results could be accounted for by considering the gender mix of the trials (p = 0.017). Trials that recruited predominantly men demonstrated the largest risk reduction in non-fatal MI (RR = 0.62, 95% CI 0.54–0.71), while trials that contained predominately women failed to demonstrate a significant risk reduction in non-fatal MI (RR = 0.87, 95% CI 0.71–1.06).

Conclusion

Gender accounts for a substantial proportion of the variability in the efficacy of aspirin in reducing MI rates across these trials, and supports the notion that women might be less responsive to aspirin than men.