Also Known As: Aspirin, Asa, Asprin, Acetylsalicylic acid, Easprin, Ecotrin, Halfprin

Aspirin (USAN), also known as acetylsalicylic acid (/əˌsɛtəlˌsælɨˈsɪlɨk/ ə-SET-əl-SAL-i-SIL-ik; abbreviated ASA), is a salicylate drug, often used as an analgesic to relieve minor aches and pains, as an antipyretic to reduce fever, and as an anti-inflammatory medication. Aspirin was first isolated by Felix Hoffmann, a chemist with the German company Bayer, under the direction of Arthur Eichengrün.[1][2]

Salicylic acid, the main metabolite of aspirin, is an integral part of human and animal metabolism. While in humans much of it is attributable to diet, a substantial part is synthesized endogenously.[3]

Aspirin also has an antiplatelet effect by inhibiting the production of thromboxane, which under normal circumstances binds platelet molecules together to create a patch over damaged walls of blood vessels. Because the platelet patch can become too large and also block blood flow, locally and downstream, aspirin is also used long-term, at low doses, to help prevent heart attacks, strokes, and blood clot formation in people at high risk of developing blood clots.[4] It has also been established that low doses of aspirin may be given immediately after a heart attack to reduce the risk of another heart attack or of the death of cardiac tissue.[5][6] Many people take a daily aspirin to reduce their risk of heart attack. New evidence suggests that aspirin may be a powerful tool in cancer prevention as well.[7][8][9][10]

The main undesirable side-effects of aspirin taken by mouth are gastrointestinal ulcers, stomach bleeding, and tinnitus, especially in higher doses. In children and adolescents, aspirin is no longer indicated to control flu-like symptoms or the symptoms of chickenpox or other viral illnesses, because of the risk of Reye's syndrome.[11]

Aspirin is part of a group of medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), but differs from them in the mechanism of action. Though it, and others in its group called the salicylates, have similar effects (antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic) to the other NSAIDs and inhibit the same enzyme cyclooxygenase, aspirin (but not the other salicylates) does so in an irreversible manner and, unlike others, affect more the COX-1 variant than the COX-2 variant of the enzyme.[12]

Today, aspirin is one of the most widely used medications in the world, with an estimated 40,000 tonnes of it being consumed each year.[13] In countries where Aspirin is a registered trademark owned by Bayer, the generic term is acetylsalicylic acid (ASA).[14]

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