First 447 words of the document:
Alexander Hood 01/05/2012
Aspirin (USAN), also known as acetylsalicylic acid, is a salicylate drug, often used as an analgesic to
relieve minor aches and pains, as an antipyretic to reduce fever, and as an anti-inflammatory
medication. It was first isolated by Felix Hoffmann, a chemist with the German company Bayer, under
the direction of Arthur Eichengrün.
Salicylic acid, the main metabolite of aspirin, is an integral part of human and animal metabolism.
While much of it is attributable to diet, a substantial part is synthesized endogenously.
Aspirin also has an antiplatelet effect by inhibiting the production of thromboxane, which under
normal circumstances binds platelet molecules together to create a patch over damaged walls of
blood vessels. Because the platelet patch can become too large and also block blood flow, locally
and downstream, aspirin is also used long-term, at low doses, to help prevent heart attacks, strokes,
and blood clot formation in people at high risk of developing blood clots. It has also been established
that low doses of aspirin may be given immediately after a heart attack to reduce the risk of another
heart attack or of the death of cardiac tissue.Many people take a daily aspirin to reduce their risk of
heart attack. Now fresh evidence suggests that the over-the-counter pain reliever may be a
powerful tool in cancer prevention as well.
The main undesirable side-effects of aspirin taken by mouth are gastrointestinal ulcers, stomach
bleeding, and tinnitus, especially in higher doses. In children and adolescents, aspirin is no longer
indicated to control flu-like symptoms or the symptoms of chickenpox or other viral illnesses,
because of the risk of Reye's syndrome.
Aspirin is part of a group of medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), but
differs from them in the mechanism of action. Though it, and others in its group called the salicylates,
have similar effects (antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic) to the other NSAIDs and inhibit the
same enzyme cyclooxygenase, aspirin (but not the other salicylates) does so in an irreversible
manner and, unlike others, affect more the COX-1 variant than the COX-2 variant of the enzyme.
Acetylsalicylic acid decomposes rapidly in solutions of ammonium acetate or of the acetatee,
carbonates, citrates or hydroxides of the alkali metals. Acetylsalicylic acid is stable in dry air, but
gradually hydrolyses in contact with moisture to acetic and salicylic acids. In solution with alkalis, the
hydrolysis proceeds rapidly and the clear solutions formed may consist entirely of acetate and