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Women Not Using Heart-Protecting Aspirin As Men Are
Posted: Wednesday, June 30, 2004
But women more likely than men to follow diet, exercise advice
An aspirin a day may help keep a heart attack away, but many women at risk for heart disease still don't take one, a new study finds. Men, by comparison, are more likely to pop aspirin regularly — but less likely than women to remember or follow advice about diet and exercise habits that can help their hearts.
The gender differences persisted even when researchers took into account how much heart-related risk individuals faced, and how often they went to the doctor. And large numbers of both men and women hadn't yet made diet or exercise changes, even those at high risk. But the study also finds some good news: Men and women are getting their cholesterol and blood pressure checked at about the same rates.
The findings, made using CDC data from telephone interviews with more than 97,000 Americans in 20 states, will be published in the June issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine..
It is the first study to stratify a broad population by individual heart disease risk, and to look at a range of medical and lifestyle practices that have been proven to help people reduce their risk of heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular problems.
The aspirin finding, leading researcher says, echoes recent evidence from the same CDC survey project that among people with diabetes — whose disease puts them at much higher risk for heart disease — women were prescribed aspirin less often than men.
When it came to diet and exercise, the proportions of both men and women who remembered getting advice from their doctors went up as the risk level went up. And among low- and medium-risk individuals, a larger percentage reported they had been dieting and exercising than the percentage who remembered getting advice on those matters from their doctors.
But women were slightly more likely than men to be dieting and exercising, except among high-risk people, where men barely outpaced the women in exercising. All in all, says Kim, many men and women weren't making these key lifestyle changes: only about two-thirds of either gender reported exercising, and two-thirds to three-quarters reported changing their diet. The group with the highest percent of either lifestyle change was high-risk women: 80 percent of them had made diet changes.
“This just reinforces how hard it is to change people's behavior, even among high-risk people who have lived through a heart attack, stroke, diabetes or coronary heart disease,” says Kim. “People develop these diseases because of their lifestyle, and we're asking them to change that lifestyle to avoid getting worse. There are many people who should be modifying their behavior, and who know they should be dieting and exercising, but they don't do it. We need to find ways to help them.”
Source: Diabetes In Control.com.
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