MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: Why may it be beneficial for people with weak hearts to take aspirin daily?

Date: Thu Oct 12 21:56:22 2000
Posted By: Terry Hebert, Faculty, Universite de Montreal, Biochemistry, Montréal Heart Institute
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 971361400.Gb

Hi Jenny,

Aspirin is often used to prevent heart attacks in people with 
atherosclerosis and also to protect people who have already had heart 
attacks from recurrences. Often heart attacks are caused when a blood clot 
that has formed on a blood vessel (most often because of the formation of 
plaques on the blood vessel wall which actually reduce the volume of the vessel 
available for blood flow) breaks off and plugs a vessel in the blood supply to 
the heart (coronary arteries and capillaries). When this happens, the part of 
the heart muscle deprived of oxygen dies, causing a heart attack. Now aspirin, 
in addition to its effects as an analgesic (pain killer), also inhibits one 
of the enzymes involved in blood clot formation. For your information that 
enzyme is called cyclooxygenase. Anyway, you can see how preventing blood 
clots in people with atherosclerosis may prevent heart attacks. Also, 
people who have had heart attacks are more prone to have another one so it 
makes sense to take aspirin in that case too.

Hope this helps,


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