A secondary prevention trial of antioxidant vitamins and cardiovascular disease in women. Rationale, design, and methods. The WACS Research Group

Ann Epidemiol. 1995 Jul;5(4):261-9. doi: 10.1016/1047-2797(94)00091-7.


The evidence for a potential benefit of antioxidant vitamins in the prevention and therapy of atherosclerotic disease is derived from laboratory, clinical, and observational epidemiologic studies but remains inconclusive. Data from randomized clinical trials are sparse, particularly for women. Therefore, it is both timely and important to conduct large-scale primary and secondary prevention trials of antioxidants and cardiovascular disease (CVD). The Women's Antioxidant and Cardiovascular Study (WACS) is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled secondary prevention trial of the balance of benefits and risks of antioxidant vitamins (vitamins E and C, and beta-carotene) among 8000 women with preexisting CVD. This secondary prevention trial will be conducted as a companion to the recently started Women's Health Study, a primary prevention trial of vitamin E and beta-carotene, as well as aspirin. In the WACS, US female health professionals aged 40 years and older with a history of myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, coronary revascularization, stroke, transient cerebral ischemia, carotid endarterectomy, or peripheral artery surgery will be randomly assigned, utilizing a 2 x 2 x 2 factorial design, to receive vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and/or placebo. Cardiovascular end points include nonfatal myocardial infarction, nonfatal stroke, coronary revascularization procedures, and total CVD mortality. The present article describes the rationale, design, and methods of the trial.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Antioxidants / adverse effects
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Ascorbic Acid / adverse effects
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Carotenoids / administration & dosage*
  • Carotenoids / adverse effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Research Design*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin E / adverse effects
  • beta Carotene


  • Antioxidants
  • beta Carotene
  • Vitamin E
  • Carotenoids
  • Ascorbic Acid