There is no more familiar item in your medicine cabinet than a bottle of aspirin. In fact, aspirin has been sold for over a century as an over-the-counter medication and millions of people take aspirin. Aspirin is used to help treat pain associated with headaches and arthritis, and for fever reduction.
People also take low dose aspirin daily as part of their doctor-recommended plan following a heart attack or clot-related stroke for secondary prevention to prevent another heart attack or clot-related stroke. In fact, there are about 40 million vascular patients who may be on an aspirin therapy plan as advised by their doctor.
“Aspirin is an important and trusted medication with benefits for a number of different purposes,” said Mayme Lou Roettig, RN, MSN, Executive Medical Director, PLx Pharma, Inc. “It can also have side effects and needs to be tailored to individual patient benefit versus risk profile. Although aspirin is sold over-the-counter, doctors may recommend using aspirin for secondary prevention. Your medical condition is unique to you, and your doctor can help determine what you need, and what to be careful about.”
Benefits from taking aspirin
Here are the primary reasons people take aspirin.
Pain relief: Aspirin is a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) effective for the temporary relief of minor aches and pains and to reduce fevers. Aspirin is just one of several NSAIDs available. It’s always a good idea to ask your healthcare provider which specific NSAID(s) would be most beneficial to you given the type of pain you’re experiencing, and your medical history.
Heart attack: According to the American Heart Association, about 720,000 people in the U.S. have their first heart attack every year and an additional 335,000 will have a recurrent heart attack or a secondary event. In the U.S. a heart attack occurs every 40 seconds. Heart attacks occur when the blood flow to the heart is blocked by a blood clot. A blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a vital section of the heart. If the blood flow is completely disrupted, that part of the heart can die. While lifestyle changes, such as improving your diet and increasing exercise, can help prevent a heart attack, aspirin can reduce the risk of another heart attack by 31% by making blood platelets less likely to stick together in a clot.
Stroke: The American Heart Association also reports that about 610,000 people experience a new stroke in the U.S. and 185,000 have a recurrent or secondary event. Stroke is the leading cause of serious long-term disability. Stroke occurs when either blood flow to the brain is diminished or disrupted preventing brain tissue from getting needed oxygen and nutrients. Some brain cells begin to die, which can lead to loss of functions controlled by that part of the brain, such as walking or talking. Like a heart attack, lifestyle changes help reduce the chances of having a stroke and aspirin is clinically shown to help lower the risk of another clot-related stroke.
Common side effects of aspirin
Patients on aspirin therapy regardless of the dosage form may experience side effects and stop taking it. In fact, some patients who are taking physician-advised aspirin therapy stop taking it due to gastrointestinal (GI) issues, which is the most common side effect. This includes both rare gastric ulcers or gastric bleeding as well as more common dyspepsia — also known as indigestion or upset stomach discomfort.
If you were recommended aspirin by your physician to prevent another heart attack or stroke and experience side effects such as stomach discomfort or gastrointestinal issues, you should contact your doctor right away. Roettig suggests speaking to your doctor if there are alternatives that may help avoid or minimize potential side effects.
Enteric Coated Aspirin
Aspirin has been around for more than 100 years. Enteric coated aspirin, the most commonly used formulation, was developed more than 50 years ago with the intention of preventing aspirin from dissolving in the stomach. The enteric coated formulation was designed to help protect the stomach lining from irritation, especially for those who take aspirin on a regular basis. However, studies have not definitively demonstrated that enteric coated aspirin protects the stomach from irritation. According to the FDA class Aspirin Professional Labeling, enteric coated aspirin products are erratically absorbed from the GI tract.
Some studies have found that patients may not get the full effect of aspirin from a dose. This is an important consideration for patients who are trying to prevent another heart attack or clot-related stroke.
A novel delivery system for aspirin
There is a unique over-the-counter aspirin recently approved by the FDA available on shelves nationally — VAZALORE®.
VAZALORE is a liquid-filled aspirin capsule, available in 81 mg and 325 mg doses, which delivers aspirin differently from plain and enteric coated aspirin products. The special complex inside the VAZALORE capsule and its innovative delivery system allows for pH dependent targeted release of aspirin, limiting its direct contact with the stomach. VAZALORE delivers fast, reliable absorption for pain relief plus the life-saving benefits of aspirin to help prevent another heart attack or clot-related stroke.
Visit www.vazalore.com to learn more about aspirin and its benefits.
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Salim S. Virani, et al. The 2021 American Heart Association (AHA) Statistical Update. Circulation. 2021;143:e254–e743. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000950.
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Professional Labeling 21CFR 343.80