Aspirin — From Headache to Heart Attack
Aspirin has almost become an urban myth. Some people would automatically think of its effects for relieving fever or headache while some would take it as a preventive measure to combat heart disease.
In ancient records, legendary Greek doctor Hippocrates used an extract from willow bark for treatment, which is the main ingredient of the drug.
Modern aspirin, acetylsalicylic acid extract from willow, was first sold in 1899 by German dye maker Bayer. According to the Independent newspaper, a trillion tablets have been consumed since and Britons take about 70 pills annually on average.
It was recognized as a good fever and cough remedy at first and is still known mainly as a fever remedy here.
However, it was later revealed that the drug prevents blood clots and is effective against cardio vascular diseases. ``Regular aspirin use among appropriate patients, even at less than 100 percent adherence, can greatly reduce the incidence of heart attacks in at-risk individuals,'' Dr. Nieca Goldberg of New York University's Women's Heart Program was quoted as saying at MedicalnewsToday.com.
In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration informed doctors of aspirin being administered to men and women who have had heart attacks or strokes or are at high risk for them.
These days, Bayer offer Aspirin Protect in 100 milligrams pills, one-fifth of regular aspirin, the appropriate amount for preventing heart disease. Its sales marked 23.7 billion won in Korea last year, which is equivalent to 58 percent of the market share, the company said.
However, aspirin is not for everyone. The FDA warned the drug's use should be approved by medical doctors and health professionals agree that long-term aspirin use to prevent a heart attack or stroke among healthy people is unnecessary.
The drug's most often noted side effect is causing damage to gastric mucous membranes, causing illness and in extreme cases, gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney failure and strokes, according to the FDA.
Pregnant and menstruating women, patients about to undergo surgery and hemophiliacs should refrain from taking it because the drug has an anti-clotting effect. In very rare cases, the drug use on children could result in Reye's Syndrome, causing detrimental effects to many organs, especially the brain and liver.
Still, aspirin is a staple of household medicine.
``It is amazing that this little pill can save people from headache to heart disease. Aspirin is the epitome of human's ever-lasting enthusiasm and curiosity toward health,'' Friedrich Gause, a representative of Bayer Healthcare Korea, said.