Master Class

Aspirin has myriad benefits


 

Some of our readers might remember the old saying, “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning,” as advice physicians gave to patients experiencing a minor malady. Aspirin often has been called a “wonder drug” as its uses continue to expand. From its first recorded use in the Ebers papyrus as an anti-inflammatory agent, to its first use in a clinical trial showing that it induces remission of fever and joint inflammation, to the discovery that it could prevent death from heart attack, to its anticancer properties, aspirin remains one of the most researched drugs in use today. According to ClinicalTrials.gov, there are over 465 active and nearly 1,000 completed aspirin-related clinical trials around the world.

Dr. E. Albert Reece, vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and dean of the school of medicine.

Dr. E. Albert Reece

Despite its myriad benefits, aspirin has been linked to bleeding, nausea, and gastrointestinal ulcers. Additionally, more research is needed to determine the risks/benefits of daily aspirin in younger adults (under age 50 years) or older adults (over age 70 years), although the ASPREE (Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly) trial, expected to be completed in 2019, is working to determine the effects of daily low-dose aspirin (100 mg) on the health of people over age 65.

It is tempting to consider aspirin one of modern medicine’s so-called silver bullets, and, for women with a history of gestational hypertension and preeclampsia, it just might be. Aspirin use, especially daily aspirin, is typically not recommended during pregnancy, and most ob.gyns. will include aspirin on the “do not take” list they give to their patients during prenatal examinations. Women at risk for developing preeclampsia are the exceptions to this general rule, and a number of clinical studies have indicated that use of low-dose aspirin can help prevent disease as well as secondary outcomes for mother (i.e., placental abruption, antepartum hemorrhage) and baby (i.e., intrauterine growth restriction, stillbirth). In addition, aspirin is an easily obtainable, low-cost preventive measure for any patient at high risk.

To discuss the value of low-dose aspirin to prevent preeclampsia and how ob.gyns. can educate their patients and other health care professionals about its benefits, we have invited Charles J. Lockwood, MD, MHCM, senior vice president of University of South Florida Health and dean of Morsani College of Medicine at the University of South Florida, Tampa, and Jodi F. Abbott, MD, MSc, MHCM, director of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston Medical Center, and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University, to coauthor this month’s Master Class.

Dr. Reece, who specializes in maternal-fetal medicine, is vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, as well as the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and dean of the school of medicine. Dr. Reece said he had no relevant financial disclosures. He is the medical editor of this column. Contact him at [email protected].

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