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Who Should Take Aspirin?

Aspirin (also known as acetylsalicylic acid) was first named an released by Bayer Corporation in 1899.  However, the use of salicylates can be traced to over 2400 years ago when the bark of the willow tree (a natural source of salicylates) was consumed for medicinal purposes. 

Aspirin, which falls under the category of “NSAIDS” (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), has been used for years to help with pain control, fever, reduction of clot formation and general inflammation.  Focusing on the clot impact, aspirin is a platelet inhibitor, with platelets being the cells that are involved with the initial coagulation response.  Most heart attacks are due to clots forming on top of coronary artery blockages or rupture of these “atheromas”.  Aspirin, by virtue of its anti-platelet effects, have been shown to lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The major side effects of aspirin are potential bleeding in the GI tract and kidney injury.  Using the lower strength aspirin (81 mg as opposed to the usual 325 mg dosage) carries less risk of the bleeding and/or kidney side effects.

So, who should be taking the 81 mg of aspirin daily?  Here goes:

  • People that have previously had a heart attack, blocked coronary arteries and/or stroke who do NOT have a bleeding disorder
  • Those people ages 40-70 that have an increase in risk of developing heart disease and do not have a bleeding disorder

Similar to most issues in medicine, we always need to weigh the risks vs. benefits of any treatment/prevention.  In the case of aspirin, the most recent studies suggest that the risk of bleeding incurs more risk than the benefits of aspirin in preventing heart disease in certain populations.

And, as aspirin can help prevent heart disease, today’s song selection is from “Heart”…enjoy!

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