What is the active ingredient in aspirin?
How does aspirin work?
COX also plays a role in cessation of bleeding. Blood clotting is the result of a complex mechanism which involves many different cells, including a type known as platelets. When blood vessels are damaged or are diseased, platelets clump together over the hole or vessel tear to facilitate repair. COX activates a chemical known as thromboxane A2 that causes platelets to stick together to form a ‘plug’ over the damaged area. The aggregation of platelets (plug), in concert with the clotting process, results in a fibrin clot which stops bleeding and aids repair of the blood vessel. Aspirin inhibits COX and reduces the ability of the platelets to form a plug. This is why aspirin is known as a ‘blood thinner’ or anti-platelet agent.
What is the reason for using only a 100mg dosage in the ASPREE trial?
Are there any risks with taking aspirin?
All medications have the potential to cause adverse effects, and aspirin is no exception. Aspirin has risks related to its actions on chemicals in the body called prostaglandins and on platelets, a type of cell in the blood responsible for blood clotting.
Some prostaglandins cause fever, inflammation and pain, while other prostaglandins form a layer on the stomach wall to protect it from harsh stomach acid. Aspirin inhibits the production of prostaglandins, which will reduce fever, pain and inflammation, but it will also put the stomach at risk of this layer thinning. If the layer becomes too thin stomach acid can erode the wall of the stomach and form an ulcer.
Others side effects of aspirin are related to its action on platelets. Aspirin’s anti-platelet or blood thinning effect leads to a delay in blood clotting. This means that if you bleed and are taking aspirin, the bleeding may take longer to stop. Symptoms of this longer bleeding time may include bruises, blood in the stools (due to gastrointestinal bleeding), or in the worst case, a bleed into the brain (cerebral hemorrhage or a bleeding stroke). These adverse effects are risks. Although some people unfortunately experience side-effects, not everyone that takes aspirin will experiences adverse effects.
The balance of benefit and risks of aspirin in healthy older people was unknown prior to the ASPREE study. Your physician is the best person to give you individual health advice about whether you should or should not take daily low-dose aspirin.
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What are the long term effects of taking aspirin?
Prolonged use of aspirin at higher doses can cause stomach ulcers, and can also prolong bleeding. The low-dose form of aspirin (100mg) used in the ASPREE study reduces the risk of developing stomach ulcers, while also having the potential to provide therapeutic benefit (in a primary prevention context). ASPREE is the first study in the world to determine the balance of potential benefit versus the risk of aspirin for primary prevention of disease.
The ASPREE Clinical Trial officially concluded in January 2018. ASPREE-XT (eXTension) is a follow up observational study of possible long term effects of aspirin in older people, which commenced in January 2018. There are indications that taking aspirin for a period of time may reduce the incidence and spread of some cancers, such as bowel cancer, however this may not be evident until may years later.
Will 100mg of aspirin cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears)?
There is NO evidence that low dose aspirin (100mg) causes tinnitus. There is evidence that long term, high dose aspirin (>500mg daily) can cause tinnitus in some people and this is reversible once the treatment is stopped or the dose is lowered.
Does aspirin react with other drugs?
Aspirin belongs to a class of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If you take a number of NSAIDs at the same time the side effects can be cumulative.
If you have any concerns about any medications, speak to your health provider.