oa SA Pharmaceutical Journal - An update on aspirin : review

Volume 79, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 2221-5875
  • E-ISSN: 2220-1017



Aspirin is the most commonly used medicine worldwide. Possibly, it is also still the most versatile and effective medicine on the pharmacist's shelf. Initially, aspirin was used mainly to relieve pain, and ease fever and hangovers. This 110-year-old drug is now a mainstay in the prevention of myocardial infarctions and strokes, especially heart attacks occurring in men, and strokes occurring in women, for the first time. It is not yet clear who benefits most from daily aspirin, and how much to take, but it is evident that age and risk factors determine this. For prevention against myocardial infarctions and strokes, it is generally agreed that 81 mg of aspirin a day offers good protection, with the least stomach irritation. Therefore, aspirin has a "balance sheet", with positive and negative effects, that need to be carefully weighed up. Increasingly, the literature refers to the concept of aspirin resistance. The primary aim of this article is to provide an overview and update on the literature published on aspirin. For example, three papers published in the March 2012 edition of suggested that daily aspirin can be used to help prevent, and possibly treat, cancer. Emerging data on aspirin, and the reduction of cancer incidence and mortality, has opened a new non-cardiovascular role for aspirin that requires further study. The major uses of aspirin in the 21st century are no longer pain and fever only. They also now extend to its unique antiplatelet effects, and for the chemoprophylaxis of cancer.

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