There isn't enough evidence to show if people who are aspirin resistant can simply take larger doses, but Dorsch warns that people taking aspirin on the advice of a doctor shouldn't stop therapy on account of these results.
Not only did the study quantify how much more effective aspirin therapy is for men than for women, it is also the first study that Dorsch knows of to measure aspirin resistance in men and women with stable coronary artery disease. Previous studies have looked at the impact of aspirin therapy on people who have had a heart attack.
For the study, researchers randomly selected 100 patients who were visiting their cardiologist for a regularly scheduled appointment. All had coronary artery disease but only half had a history of heart attack. Researchers used a device called VerifyNow Aspirin Assay to test the percentage of platelet reactivity after blood samples were exposed to a chemical that causes clotting.
Aspirin works by causing platelet inhibition in the blood, which means that platelets cannot stick together and this slows the formation of blood clots that cause a heart attack or stroke.
"This does happen in women, but it doesn't happen in as many women and it's not as effective," Dorsch said. The testing device uses an optical sensor to "see" what percentage of the platelets in the blood sample clump together. Anything less than 40 percent platelet inhibition is considered aspirin resistant.
"We really don't know the mechanism," Dorsch said. "It could be that women have a more active platelet system in the body so it's less likely that platelet action would be inhibited."
In the future, researchers hope to look at aspirin therapy outcomes in women only and see if those outcomes can be changed. The majority of testing for aspirin therapy has been on men, so not much is known about how women respond.
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