Generic name: acetylsalicylic acid
Common brand names: Bayer, Bufferin, and many others
General category: Blood thinner, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), salicylate
Aspirin is used to treat and prevent a range of conditions. This medicine may be taken for: Pain
reliefFever reductionReducing the risk of dying when having a heart attackPreventing a heart attack or stroke
There is promising evidence to support that taking an aspirin every day is associated with a reduced risk of dying from cancer after it has been diagnosed.
To prevent cardiovascular disease, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends daily aspirin. Aspirin is recommended for men aged 45-79 years and women aged 55-79 years as long as the benefits of taking the medicine outweigh the risks. One common risk to consider is gastrointestinal bleeding. If you want to start taking aspirin every day, be sure you talk to your doctor first to make sure that it is safe for you.
The American Heart Association recommends aspirin for certain poeple who are at high risk of heart attacks and for poeple who have experienced a myocardial infarction (heart attack), stroke, or transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke) if not contraindicated.
Take only the amount of aspirin instructed by your doctor.
If you are taking aspirin regularly and you need a medicine to relieve pain, a fever, or arthritis, your doctor may not want you to take extra aspirin. It is a good idea to discuss this with your doctor, so that you will know ahead of time what medicine to take.
Do not stop taking this medicine for any reason without first checking with the doctor who directed you to take it.
—This inhibits the body’s production of a hormone-like substance called prostaglandin. This chemical causes pain by stimulating muscles contractions and blood vessel dilation. Aspirin may also fight inflammation in a plaque caused by
Antithrombotic (blood thinning)/Platelet aggregation inhibitor
—This prevents platelets from releasing the prostaglandin thromboxane, which causes platelets to clump together in a blood clot. This helps prevent potentially fatal formation of new blood clots in diseased blood vessels.
Aspirin can interact with many types of medicines. Some examples include:
Blood thinnersOral medicines used to treat diabetesAnticonvulsantsBeta-blockersCorticosteroidsOther nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicinesDiuretics
Be sure to talk to your doctor about the specific medicines that you are taking.
If you have one of the following conditions, it may not be appropriate for you to take aspirin due to the increased risk of complications: Liver or kidney diseasePeptic ulcer
or other gastrointestinal bleeding disorder, or those at risk for these disorders
Allergy or intolerance to aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugsHemophilia
or other bleeding problems—the chance of bleeding may be increased
—salicylates can make this condition worse and can also lessen the effects of some medicines used to treat gout
Syndrome of asthma, rhinitis, and nasal polypsChildren and adolescents with a viral infectionPregnant or lactating women
Low-dose aspirin increases risk for gastrointestinal bleeding and
hemorrhagic stroke. Do not use without medical advice if you are at increased risk for these diseases.
Examples of common side effects include: Stomach irritationNausea/vomitingIncreased bleeding
Serious side effects to watch for include: Signs of bleeding in the gut such as vomiting blood or blood in the stoolAllergic reaction to aspirin
Holmes MD, Chen WY. Hiding in Plain View: The Potential for Commonly Used Drugs to Reduce Breast Cancer Mortality. Breast Cancer Res. 2012;14(2):216.
McCowan C, Munro AJ, Donnan PT, et al. Use of Aspirin Post-Diagnosis in a Cohort of Patients with Colorectal Cancer and its Association with All-Cause and Colorectal Cancer Specific Mortality. Eur J Cancer. 2012;poo:S0959-8049912)00858-1.
Reimers MS, Bastiaannet E, va Herk-Sukel MP. Aspirin Use After Diagnosis Improves Survival in Older Adults with Colon Cancer: A Retrospective Cohort Study. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2012;60(12):2232-2236.
Last reviewed December 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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