Millions of people are told by doctors to take an aspirin tablet each day to protect against heart disease, but a new study shows that a specific segment of the population may be putting themselves at risk by taking the popular over-the-counter painkiller daily.
The study, conducted by scientists at Harvard University, looked at almost 40,000 women over 10 years and found that a large portion of them carry a specific gene that helps protect against heart problems naturally.
Taking aspirin, however, may have the effect of not only removing that protection but also doubling their heart attack risk, and increasing their risk of suffering heart problems by up to 300 percent.
In total about 1 in 100 people (assuming men are also affected, although that is not known yet) who carry this specific gene and take a daily aspirin tablet may suffer from heart problems that could have otherwise been prevented.
More About the Gene and Aspirin Findings
The research found that nearly a quarter of women tested contained the gene, or 23 percent in total, which is called the COMT (catechol-O-methyltransferase) gene.
“If the research is validated it would be logical to test before giving aspirin,” said Dr. Kathyrn Hall, the study’s lead author.
The study was conducted by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
“This is one of the few cases where you can identify a single genetic polymorphism which has a significant interaction with aspirin such that it affects whether or not it protects against cardiovascular disease,” said Kathryn Hall as quoted in the Times of India.
“These hormones are implicated in a broad spectrum of disorders, including hypertension,” added Hall.
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