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Aspirin is a drug used in pain relief as an analgesic and to treat fever as anti-pyretic and as an anti-inflammatory. It is also known as acetylsalicylic acid. It is a type of NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) and works by inhibiting the enzyme, Cyclooxygenase, which catalyses the synthesis of prostaglandins H2. Acetyl group from the aspirin is transferred to serine 530 (s530) residue in the active site of Cyclooxygenase (COX) which causes the chemical structure to be permanently altered[1]. This blocks the action of Prostaglandins H2 synthase which in turn stops the inflammatory response.

Due to it being an antiplatelet medicine, aspirin reduces blood platelet ability to bind clotting factors and therefore reduces clot formation. The use of aspirin is imperative for patients who have suffered a heart attack, stroke, unstable angina, atrial fibrillation or coronary artery bypass surgery[2].

Aspirin has a few side effects. They are associated with Reye's Syndrome in children and with gastrointestinal bleeding. The gastrointestinal bleeding side-effect is due to the inhibition of cyclooxygenase. Prostaglandins play an important role in protecting the stomach mucosa from the stomach acid.

It was discovered by the chemist Felix Hoffman in 1897.


  1. Gimenez-Bastida JA, Boeglin WE, Boutaud O, Malkowski MG, Schneider C. Residual cyclooxygenase activity of aspirin-acetylated COX-2 forms 15 R-prostaglandins that inhibit platelet aggregation. Available from: doi: 10.1096/fj.201801018R.
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