Antiplatelets, low-dose aspirin

Aspirin is an important member of the group of blood thinning drugs that decrease clot formation in the blood vessels. Other antiplatelet drugs are clopidogrel, prasugrel and ticagrelor.

Indications

Low-dose aspirin (75mg daily) is recommended in following conditions:

  • Acute coronary syndrome, including unstable angina and myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Ischaemic stroke or TIA (mini stroke)
  • Coronary angioplasty (PCI, stenting))
  • Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) operation
  • Ischaemic stroke or TIA (mini stroke)
  • Peripheral vascular disease (PVD)

Aspirin used to be recommended in people at high risk of heart attack or stroke but it seems that the beneficial effect in primary prevention (before the disease develops) is only minimal and needs to be judged against slightly increased risk of bleeding.

Low dose aspirin is also advised in diabetic patients with:

Treatment with low dose aspirin is usually continued lifelong.

Use in children

Aspirin should not be used in children below the age of 16. Exemptions include certain situations after heart surgery and in Kawasaki disease when aspirin can be given on specialist recommendation.

How it works

Aspirin decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke by reducing the risk of clot formation in the blood. When you get any cut to your skin, bleeding is stopped by the plugging of blood vessels with blood clots. These blood clots are formed by small blood cells known as platelets. Clot formation is triggered by the injured areas of the blood vessels where platelets stick together to form a clot. Aspirin blocks the sticking of platelets, thus reduces clot formation.