More than half of all Americans between the ages of 45 and 75 use aspirin, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The drug’s popularity is attributable to its wide range of uses, from reducing a fever to treating a headache to preventing a stroke or heart attack.
Though the drug as we know it today was invented in a laboratory in Germany in 1897, humans have been using the drug’s medicinal properties for millennia. The ancient Greeks used some of aspirin’s active ingredients as early as around 400 B.C.
While many of aspirin’s uses have been known for decades if not centuries, new uses are still being discovered. 24/7 Tempo reviewed some of the most serious and common ailments that are either treatable, or preventable, with aspirin.
One of aspirin’s most important functions is as an analgesic — or pain reliever. Just like some of these effective pain treatments that aren’t opioids.
While over the decades many other pain relievers have been made available over-the-counter — including those containing acetaminophen and ibuprofen — aspirin remains a popular option for pain relief.
Aspirin is also often used for its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is the root cause of several conditions, including muscle aches and several types of arthritis.
Aspirin is also commonly used for its anti-platelet blood-thinning properties. Heart attack and stroke are two of the most common causes of death in the United States, and aspirin can greatly reduce the risk of both. Since strokes are caused by blood failing to reach the brain, and heart attacks are caused by blood failing to reach the heart, aspirin’s ability to thin blood and prevent it from congealing can greatly reduce the likelihood of such conditions in many of those at risk.
Heart attack and stroke, which are most common in these states, are not the only deadly diseases aspirin can help and prevent and treat. Several multi-decade studies have suggested that a low-dose aspirin regimen can reduce the likelihood of developing certain types of cancers and also increase the likelihood of survival among those undergoing treatment for certain types of cancer.
While many consider aspirin to be a miracle drug, it is not a cure-all. Though aspirin is an effective tool to fight and prevent the most common type of stroke, it can significantly worsen the effects of a different kind of stroke. In more rare cases, strokes are caused by bleeding in the brain, a condition that aspirin’s blood-thinning properties can worsen. Medication’s negative effects have led to some of the worst drug recalls in history.
Aspirin can also cause gastrointestinal bleeding in some cases. People should always check with their doctor before taking aspirin.
To identify the conditions that can be treated or prevented with aspirin, 24/7 Wall St. spoke with physicians and consulted data from the Mayo Clinic and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our list is comprised of some of the most common and some of the most deadly conditions and ailments treatable with aspirin.