FYI from the NHLBI Index

June 2005: Vol. 6, Issue 1
Feature Articles

Director Shared Vision with PIOs

Women's Health Study Reports Findings on Low-Dose Aspirin

Director Shared Vision with PIOs

Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel, Director, NHLBI, shared her vision for the Institute’s future with representatives from public interest organizations (PIOs) at the sixth annual PIO meeting. The February 8-9 event provided Dr. Nabel with an opportunity to meet and visit with PIO representatives as one of her first official duties as Director.

Dr. Nabel spoke about her active clinical practice before joining the NHLBI and noted that her interactions with patients strongly influenced her research. She emphasized that she is delighted with the prospect of working with the PIOs: “I cannot state strongly enough the importance of our working relationship, going forward, to achieve our common goals.”

Dr. Nabel expressed her commitment to supporting investigator-initiated research, reducing health disparities, and encouraging young investigators. Additionally, she said, the NHLBI will focus its efforts on:

  • Stimulating the discovery of causes of disease
  • Speeding the translation of these new discoveries to clinical applications
  • Facilitating communication between scientists and physicians, and
  • Communicating advances to the public.

Other speakers included Dr. Stephen Groft, Director, Office of Rare Diseases, NIH, who discussed program activities of the ORD and Ms. Wendy Chaite, member, NIH Director’s Council of Public Representatives, who provided an overview of the Council’s activities. Dr. Sally Shumaker, a clinical center director of the NIH Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), spoke about “clinical trials and tribulations” and Dr. Gene Gary-Williams, a WHI volunteer, shared her perspective on her experience as a study participant. During the meeting, PIO representatives had the opportunity to meet with NHLBI program staff, attend scientific sessions, and participate in roundtable discussions.

The NHLBI appreciates the feedback and suggestions it has received about the meeting. In response to requests for more information about upcoming NHLBI workshops and working groups, we added a list to the FYI (see Upcoming NHLBI Workshops and Working Groups), with an understanding that PIO representatives will be accommodated on a space-available basis and will be responsible for their own travel expenses. The NHLBI staff members listed may be contacted for more information.

Modified 6/1/05
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Women's Health Study Reports Findings on Low-Dose Aspirin

Although aspirin has been shown to reduce the risk of a first heart attack in men, until recently its effectiveness in women was uncertain. The Women’s Health Study, supported by the NHLBI, is the only large clinical trial to study the use of low-dose aspirin (100 mg on alternate days) to prevent heart attack and stroke in women. The 10-year randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, which was conducted among nearly 40,000 healthy women age 45 and older, found that aspirin did not prevent first heart attacks or death from cardiovascular causes. Indeed, aspirin users experienced only 9 percent fewer major cardiovascular events than non-users, a difference that was not statistically significant. However, the stroke rate was 17 percent lower in those taking aspirin, a statistically significant difference. The greatest benefit was in women age 65 and older for whom aspirin reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events by 26 percent.

Dr. Nabel summed up the results saying: “The bottom line is that many women, especially those 65 and older, may benefit from taking low-dose aspirin every other day to prevent stroke. But it is important for women to weigh the risk and benefits of taking aspirin and to consult with their doctor. Above all, women, like men, should adopt the well-proven approaches that reduce the risk of heart disease – eating for heart health, getting regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and controlling high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.”

Modified 6/1/05
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