The difference between cardiovascular disease in women and men also affects venous thromboembolism (blood clots in the veins), said Steinbaum, because women have smaller arteries that can raise bigger problems in terms of blood clots and stroke.
But the new vitamin E study, which comes from an analysis of Women's Health Study data, suggests the supplement might reduce the risk of deep vein or pulmonary blood clots, particularly for women with a prior history or who have genetic mutations that predispose them to these events. The study looked at a decade's worth of data from almost 27,000 U.S. women.
Robert J. Glynn, the study's lead author and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said his team was "somewhat surprised to find this result" after prior findings that vitamin E did not lower risks for either cardiovascular disease or cancer in the same research subjects.
Jackson said that, pending further research, women at higher risk should not replace current therapies with vitamin E.
There's more on women's heart health at the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: John D. Puskas, M.D., associate chief, cardiothoracic surgery, Emory University, Atlanta; Robert J. Glynn, Ph.D., Sc.D., associate professor, medicine (biostatistics), Harvard Medical School, Boston; Elizabeth Jackson, M.D., assistant professor, medicine, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor; Suzanne Steinbaum, D.O., director, women and heart disease, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Sept. 10, 2007, online edition, Circulation
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