LONDON (Reuters Health) – The proportion of patients with cardiovascular disease using aspirin for secondary prevention might be increased if emphasis were placed on over-the-counter (OTC) acquisition, UK researchers report in The British Journal of General Practice.
In fact, lead author Dr. John Bedson told Reuters Health that this is particularly so in patients "that do not seek medical advice or attend their family doctors on a regular basis and as such are not exposed to the appropriate educational advice with respect to aspirin use."
To determine how many patients with cardiovascular disease might be taking aspirin, Dr. Bedson and colleagues, at Keele University, examined data on 5733 such patients from 9 local general practices. Of these, 69.2% were taking aspirin. Most obtained it on prescription, and the remaining 26% were OTC users.
There were significant differences in OTC use between practices, but such use was more common in those aged under 65 years, men, and the more affluent.
The investigators point out that about 9% of patients with cardiovascular disease have contraindications to aspirin use, but even so "there still appears to be room for improvement."
This might be achieved, Dr. Bedson continued, "through the pharmacist, workplace, or media, by improving overall awareness of the benefits of aspirin in cardiovascular disease." This could increase OTC use, he concluded, "by getting the message over to a group of patients that would otherwise not have benefited from it."
Br J Gen Pract 2001;51:1001-1003.