Differential effects of aspirin and non-aspirin nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs in the primary prevention of myocardial infarction in postmenopausal women
The antiplatelet effect of aspirin reduces the risk of clinical manifestations of atherothrombosis by approximately 25% in secondary prevention settings. Data are limited in primary prevention of coronary heart disease, and even more in women. Here, we estimate the effects of aspirin and non-aspirin nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs in the primary prevention of myocardial infarction in postmenopausal women. We followed a cohort of 164,769 women, 50-74 years of age, registered in the General Practice Research Database in the United Kingdom, from January 1991 through December 1995. For aspirin and non-aspirin nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, the risk of myocardial infarction associated with current use was compared with risk in non-users, using a nested case-control analysis. Overall, the relative risk of myocardial infarction associated with current use of aspirin of more than 1 month's duration was 0.56 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) = 0.26-1.21], and that of nonfatal myocardial infarction was 0.28 (95% CI = 0.08-0.91). Chronic use of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs was not associated with a protective effect (relative risk = 1.32; 95% CI = 0.97-1.81). These findings indicate that incomplete and reversible inhibition of platelet cyclooxygenase by non-aspirin nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs is not sufficient to produce clinically detectable cardiovascular protection comparable with that achieved by low-dose aspirin through irreversible inactivation of platelet cyclooxygenase.