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FAU Investigators First to Show New Mechanism for Beneficial Effects of Aspirin in Cardiovascular Disease

FAU principal investigator who was the first to demonstrate that aspirin prevents a first heart attack or first stroke publishes new mechanism in Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics

BOCA RATON, FL (December 2, 2010) — Charles H. Hennekens, M.D., DrPH, the first Sir Richard Doll Research Professor in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, has published the results of A Randomized Trial of Aspirin at Clinically Relevant Doses and Nitric Oxide Formation in Humans in the current issue of the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics.  These are the first data in humans to show that all doses of aspirin used in clinical practice increase nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is released from the blood vessel wall and may decrease the development and progression of plaques leading to heart attacks and strokes.

Hennekens and his colleagues randomized patients at high risk of a first heart attack or stroke to different doses of aspirin for 12 weeks.  All doses produced highly significant beneficial effects on two important and well documented markers of nitric oxide formation.

Hennekens was also the first researcher to demonstrate that aspirin prevents a first heart attack.   “While the ability of aspirin to decrease the clumping of blood platelets is sufficient to explain why the drug decreases risks of heart attacks and strokes, these data suggest a new and novel mechanism,” said Hennekens.  

Hennekens and his colleagues are proposing new and longer term research to the National Institutes of Health to test whether this hypothesis has clinical or public health relevance.

The American Heart Association recommends aspirin use for patients who have had a myocardial infarction (heart attack), unstable angina, ischemic stroke (caused by blood clot) or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs or "little strokes"), if not contraindicated. This recommendation is based on a large body of evidence from randomized trials showing that aspirin reduces risks of heart attack, stroke and death from vascular diseases.  In primary prevention, aspirin prevents a first heart attack, but the data on stroke and vascular death are not yet conclusive. The decision as to whether to use the drug should be an individual clinical judgment by the healthcare provider. 

– FAU –

About Florida Atlantic University:

Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of  Education, the College of  Engineering & Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. For more information, visit

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