, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 94-100

Aspirin administered to women at 100 mg every other day produces less platelet inhibition than aspirin administered at 81 mg per day: implications for interpreting the women’s health study

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Abstract

Objective We aimed to determine the relative level of platelet inhibition achieved with low-dose aspirin (81 mg daily) compared with a very low-dose (100 mg every other day). Background The Womens Health Study (WHS) found that a dose of 100 mg every other day of aspirin provided protection against stroke as primary prophylaxis, but not myocardial infarction. In the United States, the most commonly prescribed dose of aspirin for primary prophylaxis is 81 mg per day. As a result, it is important to know whether these doses are equivalent before extrapolating the results of the WHS to women in the U.S. Methods To achieve this goal, we have studied the effects of these two dosing regimens on platelet function in healthy women meeting the WHS inclusion criteria using a randomized design. We enrolled 49 healthy female volunteers and used a sequential, crossover design to compare the two regimens. The participants received a 17-day course of each aspirin-dosing regimen separated by a 7-day washout period. The degree of platelet inhibition was measured on days 14–17 of each dosing regimen using a point-of-care platelet function assay utilizing arachidonic acid to activate platelets (VerifyNow-Aspirin). Results Participants platelet response, expressed as Aspirin Response Unit (ARU) attained a significantly greater level of platelet inhibition on days 14–17 while taking aspirin 81 mg daily compared to aspirin 100 mg every other day (31.3% vs. 12.7%, P < 0.0001) with mean ± SD ARU values of 445 ± 50 and 570 ± 68, P < 0.0001. Significantly more daily readings in participants were ≥550 ARU, a value correlated with clinical outcomes in several studies, with the 100 mg every other day regimen (72.0% vs. 6.4% with 81 mg daily, P < 0.0001), and this alternate-day regimen also resulted in more day-to-day variability in platelet function (P = 0.0002). Conclusion We found significantly less inhibition of platelet function with the dose used in the WHS than the usual U.S. dose. We observed that the degree of platelet inhibition was significantly less with aspirin 100 mg every other day compared with aspirin 81 mg daily, suggesting that results of the Women’s Health Study may have underestimated both the efficacy and toxicity of aspirin as it is commonly administered. These data need to be considered when developing recommendations about the use of aspirin in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in women.

Accumetrics is the manufacturer of the VerifyNow System, the platelet function analyzer used in this study and the authors are employees of Accumetrics.