Aspirin, or Acetylsalicylic Acid, is one of the most commonly used drugs in the world. Classified as a non-steroidal inflammatory analgesic, Aspirin is used to relieve pain, reduce fever, reduce swelling in inflammatory joint conditions, inhibit blood clotting, and prevent strokes. Aspirin, a salicylate drug, inhibits the synthesis of prostaglandin, a hormone-like compound that acts as a catalyst for inflammation in tissues.
Uses and Side Effects of Aspirin
Aspirin is sold as an over-the-counter medication under many brand names. Dosages range from 50 mg to 6,000 mg daily, with specific doses prescribed for specific conditions. Low doses of Aspirin are used as part of an anti-platelet therapy regimen to prevent heart attacks and stroke and to mediate other coronary conditions. Daily low-dose therapy is always prescribed and monitored by a doctor as part of a comprehensive drug therapy program. Due to the possibility of severe side effects, Aspirin use is monitored when combined with other drugs to prevent drug-drug interactions.
Higher doses of Aspirin are used to treat chronic inflammation, arthritis, and other diseases. Higher doses are prescribed and monitored by a doctor to ensure effectiveness of treatment and reduce the potential for side effects. Doses for pain and fever range from 325 mg to 650 mg as needed, while not exceeding 4 grams per day. Any dose has the potential to cause Aspirin side effects.
Minor Aspirin side effects include heartburn and nausea. Serious side effects of Aspirin include internal bleeding, ringing of the ears, severe vomiting, or allergic reactions that include rash, dizziness, or difficulty breathing. Aspirin is also associated with Reyes syndrome in children. In addition, Aspirin may trigger asthma attacks in asthmatic people who are sensitive to aspirin or other NSAIDS.
Pharmacogenetics and Aspirin Adverse Effects
Medical research has demonstrated that individual genetic variants can affect drug metabolism. This field, called pharmacogenetics, studies how variances of individual genes can affect the assimilation and elimination of specific drugs in the body. Clinicians and Pharmacists can use a person’s unique genetic characteristics to develop a drug regimen that provides the most effective relief from symptoms and minimizes adverse reactions.
As Aspirin is an anti-platelet agent, it is commonly used in prevention of cardiovascular disease. Aspirin inactivates COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes that affect platelet formation. However, some people do not get the benefit of the anti-platelet properties of Aspirin and suffer adverse side effects such as blood clots. This lack of benefit is termed aspirin resistance. Studies suggest that aspirin resistance is associated with variants of specific genes. For people with these gene variants, the potential for severe side effects increases.
Benefits of Pharmacogenetic Testing
Pharmacogenetic testing with Rxight® allows clinicians to select medications with the greatest therapeutic value and the least amount of side effects. If a doctor knows that a patient has a genetic variant that is associated with the increased risk of a hemorrhage, a personalized anti-platelet medication regimen can be designed that enhances efficacy of therapy and minimizes adverse events.