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Risky Business: New Survey Suggests Many Americans Live Dangerously, Even When They Say They Aren't 'Risk Takers'

- 60 percent say they are not risk takers with their health, yet up to

one-third of those skip critical health screenings - 42 percent are at elevated risk for cardiovascular events, yet 20 percent of those have not spoken with their physician about preventive benefits of

regular low-dose aspirin

MORRISTOWN, N.J., Sept. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- A new survey of men and women age 40 and older in the United States reveals a significant gap between people's desire to avoid taking risks with their health, and the percentage who knowingly skip critical health screenings. Overall, 60 percent indicated they weren't risk takers with their health. Yet, 25 percent of those who think they play it safe admitted to skipping routine mammograms or prostate cancer screenings, with 30 percent skipping colonoscopies and other screenings after the age of 50.

When it comes to the nation's number one killer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), as many as 42 percent of those surveyed were determined to be at elevated CVD risk using a formula that is based in part on the Framingham Risk Calculator*. If this survey outcome were to be applied to the total populations of men over 40 and women over 50 it could mean that as many as 47.8 million people are at elevated CVD risk**. Among those at elevated risk, as many as one in five have not spoken to their physicians about the preventive benefits of low-dose aspirin therapy.

"Knowing your cardiovascular risk and taking appropriate steps to lower it can decrease the number of heart attacks and strokes suffered in this country every year," said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, clinical associate professor of medicine and medical director of New York University's Women's Heart Program and author of Dr. Nieca Goldberg's Complete Guide to Women's Health. "Patients need to talk to their doctor about proven simple prevention strategies, like taking daily low-dose aspirin, diet and exercise. If more at-risk adults were on an aspirin regimen, along with improved diet and exercise the incidence of heart disease in this country would be greatly reduced."

In fact, according to a report issued by the AHA and two other major health organizations and published in recent issues of Circulation(i) and Diabetes Care, greater appropriate use of preventive measures that include aspirin therapy, weight loss, cholesterol and blood pressure reduction, and smoking cessation would reduce heart attacks by 36 percent over the next three decades(ii). A report by the Partnership for Prevention also calculated that 45,000 lives would be saved each year if more adults took a low-dose aspirin to prevent CV events(iii). In addition, the American Medical Association (AMA) passed policy in July to increase education among physicians on the importance of appropriate aspirin counseling for the prevention of heart attacks and recurrent stroke. Encouraging physicians to incorporate aspirin counseling into patient care when appropriate may help reduce the prevalence of heart attack and recurrent stroke, said the AMA.

The new survey results were released today in conjunction with the World Heart Federation's World Heart Day 2008, a global advocacy campaign aimed at increasing public awareness and promoting the use of preventive measures to reduce the incidence of CVD. World Heart Day 2008 will be observed on Sunday, 28 September. This year's theme - "Know Your Risk" - focuses on improving understanding of personal risk for cardiovascular disease, including hypertension. As part of the campaign, heart health screening and other activities for the public are being planned in over 100 countries worldwide.

"On the occasion of World Heart Day, this survey shows there still is much work to be done when it comes to risk factor education, and encouraging behaviors that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease," said Wes Cetnarowski, MD, Senior Vice President of Global Research and Development at Bayer Healthcare. "We hope this latest survey report -- as well as the ongoing efforts of organizations such as the World Heart Federation, the AHA, the AMA, and other health organizations worldwide -- encourages and increases discussion between physicians and appropriate patients regarding the importance of preventive lifestyle changes and proven risk-reduction therapies that include low-dose aspirin therapy."

The survey was part of a global project that included 10 countries in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia (Canada, United States, Argentina, Mexico, Germany, Italy, Spain, China, South Korea, and Japan) conducted by GMI and sponsored by Bayer HealthCare LLC.

Survey Outcomes -- Comparing Health Risks and Risks of Daily Living

Americans view a variety of routine activities associated with daily living as moderately or highly risky (i.e., having a moderate to high likelihood of a negative consequence) including not wearing a seat belt (85 percent), throwing paperwork with personal information in the trash (85 percent), and talking on a cell phone while driving (84 percent). While the vast majority of respondents act to reduce risks associated with not wearing a seat belt (81 percent wear a seat belt regularly), 28 percent regularly or occasionally throw personal information in the trash, and 41 percent admit to regularly or occasionally talking on a cell phone while driving.

When it comes to activities or behaviors related to health risks, even though 92 percent feel smoking or using tobacco is moderately to highly risky, 22 percent of respondents still use tobacco regularly (with an additional five percent occasionally). Other notable actions associated with taking health risks included:

-- Forgetting to take prescribed medications overall: 12 percent regularly or occasionally

-- Forgetting to take prescribed blood pressure or cholesterol medication: 21 percent regularly or occasionally

However on a positive note, 76 percent regularly or occasionally get annual check-ups, and 79 percent have their blood pressure or cholesterol regularly or occasionally checked.

Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Awareness of Aspirin Benefits

Americans tend to rate themselves as somewhat or very knowledgeable about the risk factors associated with heart attacks (83 percent) and strokes (74 percent). Survey respondents also were knowledgeable, having heard or read about, the benefits of aspirin for protecting against another heart attack (94 percent) or stroke (75 percent), and helping save your life if taken during a heart attack (82 percent).

Among the group of patients identified as being at elevated CV risk, 50 percent had spoken with their physician or healthcare professional about taking low-dose aspirin for preventing heart attack or stroke, were advised to take it, and to take it regularly. But, surprisingly, 20 percent of those at elevated risk had never discussed the benefits of low-dose aspirin with a healthcare provider.

Furthermore, among all survey respondents who had spoken with their physicians and been advised to take aspirin (36 percent), about one-sixth were not currently taking it. The most common reasons cited for not following their doctor's orders suggested patients were in denial about their need for aspirin, or simply were forgetful. Specifically, 26 percent of these respondents felt they didn't really need it, 37 percent cited forgetfulness, and 37 percent cited no particular reason.

"While this survey indicates broad knowledge about the benefits of taking low-dose aspirin, aspirin continues to be underutilized by doctors and patients. This is an important problem that must be addressed," said Dr. Nieca Goldberg. "Doctors and patients need to work more closely together to ensure they're having a meaningful dialogue about the role of aspirin in preventing cardiovascular events."

The cornerstone role of aspirin in preventing CV events continues to be supported and reinforced by the global scientific community, through multiple international and national medical guidelines. Recognizing the issue of underutilization, the American Medical Association recently passed a resolution to increase education among physicians on the importance of appropriate aspirin counseling for the prevention of heart attack and recurrent stroke.

Survey methodology

Surveys were conducted between April 25 and April 30, 2008 in 10 countries (Canada, Germany, China, South Korea, Argentina, Japan, Mexico, Italy, Spain, and the United States) by GMI as part of a custom study utilizing online consumer opinion panels. Findings in each country are based on approximately 300 respondents (male and female) per country 40 years of age or older.

About World Heart Day

Heart disease is the world's No. 1 killer, claiming 17.5 million lives each year. That's why World Heart Day was created, to increase public awareness of the risk of heart disease and to promote preventive measures. World Heart Day 2008 will be held Sunday, Sept. 28, 2008, with the theme, "Know Your Risk!" Activities run by World Heart Federation members and partners will include walks, runs, public talks, scientific forums, exhibitions, concerts, sporting events, and much more. For more details, visit

About Aspirin

Aspirin, life-tested for generations, is one of the most extensively studied drugs in history and boasts extensive clinical experience; it has an enviable 110-year track record of efficacy and safety across a range of doses. More than 200,000 patients have been studied in more than 200 randomized clinical trials evaluating aspirin efficacy and safety across a broad range of cardiovascular disease (CVD) indications. Aspirin is recognized as cornerstone therapy for reducing risk of (CVD) events, including, but not limited to, heart attack and ischemic stroke, based upon clinical studies and extensive clinical, real world, experience.

The cornerstone role of aspirin continues to be supported and reinforced by the global scientific community, through multiple international and national medical guidelines recommending the use of low-dose aspirin for prevention of CVD events in both the primary and secondary settings. Aspirin, recognized worldwide as one of the most effective CVD therapies, is universally available and offers excellent value for its cost.

As with all drugs, aspirin is not for everyone. The determination of who is an appropriate candidate for aspirin therapy is a decision that must be made in consultation between doctor and patient. Patients should always talk with their physicians before starting or adjusting a low-dose aspirin regimen.

About Bayer Consumer Care

The Consumer Care Division of Bayer HealthCare LLC, is headquartered in Morristown, N.J. Bayer's Consumer Care Division is among the largest marketers of over-the-counter medications and nutritional supplements in the world. Some of the most trusted and recognizable brands in the world today come from the Bayer portfolio of products. These include Bayer(R) Aspirin, ALEVE(R), Flanax(R)/Apronax(R), Alka-Seltzer Plus(R), Bactine(R), RID(R), Phillips'(R) Milk of Magnesia, Midol(R), Alka-Seltzer(R), Talcid(R), Rennie(R), Canesten(R), Bepanthen(R), Bepanthol(R), One A Day(R) vitamins, Flintstones(TM) vitamins, Supradyn(R), Redoxon(R), Berocca(R), Cal-D-Vita/Elevit(R), Vital 50 Plus(R), CardioAspirin(R).

The Bayer Group is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, nutrition and high-tech materials. Bayer HealthCare, a subsidiary of Bayer AG, is one of the world's leading, innovative companies in the healthcare and medical products industry and is based in Leverkusen, Germany. The company combines the global activities of the Animal Health, Consumer Care, Diabetes Care and Pharmaceuticals divisions. The pharmaceuticals business operates under the name Bayer Schering Pharma AG. Bayer HealthCare's aim is to discover and manufacture products that will improve human and animal health worldwide. Find more information at

* Using respondent self reports on their personal health and a formula based in part on the Framingham Risk Calculator, a measurement tool that assesses an individual's risk profile using a series of factors, including age, gender, previous cardiovascular events, presence of risk factors such as high cholesterol, blood pressure or diabetes, and other contributors such as smoking and family history of heart disease.

** Using population numbers for men over 40 and women over 50 from the U.S. census bureau 2007 international database.

(i) Kahn R, Robertson RM, Smith R, Eddy D. The impact of prevention on reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease. Circulation 2008. Published online before print 7 July 2008, doi: 10.1161.CIRCULATIONAHA.108.190186.

(ii) Kahn R, Robertson RM, Smith R, Eddy D. The impact of prevention on reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease. Diabetes Care 2008;31:1-11.

(iii) National Commission on Prevention Priorities. Preventive Care: A National Profile on Use, Disparities, and Health Benefits. Partnership for Prevention, August 2007. Available at:

SOURCE Bayer Consumer Care
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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