Aspirin : Definition, Risk Factors, And Additional uses


A popular medication for reducing fevers, mild aches, and pains is aspirin. It can also be described as a blood thinner and anti-inflammatory.

Without a prescription, aspirin is sold over the counter. Headache relief, edema reduction, and to lower temperature lowering are all common reasons to take aspirin.

When used regularly, aspirin can help those who are at high risk of cardiovascular complications such as a heart attack or stroke. To avoid more clots and the degeneration of heart tissue, doctors may prescribe aspirin, after an incidence of a heart attack.


Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID). It was the first medication of its kind to be found.

Salicylate, a substance present in plants like the myrtle and willow tree, is an ingredient in aspirin. Around 4,000 years ago, its use was first documented.

Willow bark was used by Hippocrates to treat pain and fevers, and some people today still use it as a home cure for headaches and moderate discomfort.

The following are the consequences of this medication:

  • Minimizing pain
  • Lowering fever
  • Greater ability to reduce inflammation

They are not steroids. Although steroids frequently offer advantages similar to those of aspirin, they are not suitable for everyone and may have unfavorable side effects.

What can Aspirin be used for?

Aspirin has a wide range of uses, including treating a variety of ailments, lowering the risk of cardiovascular events in patients at high risk, and reducing pain and swelling.

These are some of the uses:

Aches and Swelling

Aspirin can reduce mild to severe discomfort, edema, or both linked to a variety of medical conditions, including:

  • Headaches
  • The flu or a cold
  • Sprains and strains
  • Menstruation pains 
  • Chronic illnesses including migraine and arthritis.

A doctor could advise using aspirin together with another medication, such as an opioid painkiller or another NSAID, if the pain is severe.

Preventing heart attacks and strokes

Daily low-dose aspirin use, though not safe for everyone, can reduce some people's risk of cardiovascular events.

Low-dose aspirin can lower the risk of cardiovascular events in persons who are at high risk for them by preventing blood clots from forming.

A doctor could advise taking low-dose aspirin every day for those who:

  • Have a cardiac or vessel medical issue.
  • Show signs of blood flow issues
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Have hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Smoke and develop diabetes

Long-term aspirin usage, however, may have more disadvantages than advantages for those without these conditions.

Preventing heart attacks

To stop more clot formation and cardiac tissue death during a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular event, doctors may prescribe aspirin.

Aspirin may also be prescribed to those who recently experienced the following:

  • A mini-stroke
  • Transient ischemic attack, or coronary bypass surgery
  • Revascularization surgery; and an ischemic stroke brought on by a blood clot.

Additional uses

Aspirin can assist in treating the following chronic medical diseases associated  with pain and swelling:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis, and other inflammatory joint problems 
  • Pericarditis or an inflammation of the heart

Risk Factors

Aspirin should only be taken if a doctor advises it for a patient with one of the following conditions:

  • Hemophilia
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Asthma
  • Peptic or stomach ulcers
  • Liver or renal illness, and other bleeding diseases

Pregnant or nursing women may use low-dose aspirin under a doctor's supervision. High-dose aspirin is often not advised by doctors during pregnancy.

Avoid these medications if you have a known allergy to aspirin.

Aspirin is not given to patients who are experiencing a stroke since not all strokes are brought on by blood clots. Aspirin may occasionally exacerbate a stroke.

Additionally, anyone who routinely consumes alcohol or is having treatment, even minor dental or surgical procedures, should consult their doctor before taking aspirin. 

Side effects of Aspirin

Aspirins most common side effects include:

  • Stomach discomfort 
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea

The following are less common:

  • Symptoms of asthma worsening
  • Vomiting
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding, and bruises
  • Additionally, aspirin can cause very significant adverse effects including brain, stomach, or renal failure. Hemorrhagic stroke is an uncommon adverse effect of using low-dose aspirin regularly.

Key concepts about Aspirin

A variety of health problems can be prevented and treated with aspirin, but anybody under the age of 18 should never use it without a doctors supervision.

Aspirin is accessible without a prescription and over-the-counter. Always heed the warnings on the label or the advice of your doctor. For those who may be more inclined to have negative consequences, this is especially important.

Not everyone can safely use aspirin, especially when taken regularly. Other NSAIDs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are further alternatives for treating minor discomfort.

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Page last reviewed: Mar 6, 2023

Next review due: Mar 6, 2025

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