Aspirin: an old medicine with great therapeutic properties

30 January, 2023

Aspirin can have other uses beyond treatment pain

In 1897, acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) was synthesized for the first time in a pure form and since then it has been used as an analgesic and antipyretic. It has also been proven that in people who take aspirin for years the probability of developing cancer (colon, liver,..) decreases and the probability of tumours spreading to other organs decreases by 40-50%. In addition, aspirin prevents the aggregation of platelets and therefore can prevent the formation of clots, eliminating the risk of suffering a myocardial infarction, a stroke, etc.

Other uses of aspirin

A study has recently been published in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrating another important benefit of aspirin administration. It is known that whenever there is a bone fracture of the limbs undergoing surgical intervention, there is a risk of venous thromboembolism (pulmonary embolism, etc.) from immobilization.

To prevent this thromboembolism, heparin, an anticoagulant drug that must be administered subcutaneously, is given postoperatively. In an attempt to demonstrate whether aspirin can be as
effective as heparin in preventing postoperative pulmonary thromboembolism, the study was conducted including 12,211 patients divided into two groups: I) 6,101 patients treated with 81 mg of aspirin orally, 2 times per day and II) 6,110 patients who received 30 mg of heparin by abdominal injection, 2 times per day. These medications were maintained for about 21 days postoperatively. The incidence of pulmonary embolism and other undesired adverse effects was found to be similar in both groups.

Advantages against heparin

Therefore, oral aspirin can be used as an anticoagulant in those trauma interventions that require it. This is a great advantage over heparin since it must be administered by subcutaneous injection twice a day. In addition, heparin is much more expensive than aspirin. Other studies must be carried out to verify if aspirin can also replace heparin for the prevention of other vascular accidents: portal thrombosis in patients with liver cirrhosis, etc.

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