Acetyl salicylic acid is the active ingredient in Aspirin. It is a synthetic derivative of the natural compound, salicin, found in plants. The acetyl salicyclic acid interferes with the production of prostaglandin thromboxane, a hormone that plays a vital role in the formation of blood clots. By stifling the production of platelets in the blood, Aspirin makes it less likely for blood clots to form. This is advantageous to those with an increased risk of heart attack or stroke due to narrowed and hardened arteries that can easily impair blood flow when blood clots in the artery.
Aspirin inhibits the production of a chemical called prostaglandin, a chemical that is both necessary in producing pain and in blood clotting. By inhibiting clotting, aspirin allows blood to flow more freely through the circulatory system. This is why low dose aspirin is recommended for patients who are at risk for heart attack, stroke, and other health issues caused by blood clots.
Aspirin actually has quite a history. One of the components of aspirin is salicin, which is found naturally in plants, including the willow tree. As early as 400 B.C. people were using ground willow bark for labor and rheumatic fever. When salicin was made into salicylic acid, however, it was too hard on the body and stomach lining. Later research in 1897 by Felix Hoffmann took place and he synthesized the salicin into acetylsalicylic acid which is the active ingredient that thins the blood in aspirin.
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