Aspirin in cardiovascular disorders. What is the optimum dose?
Clinical trials of aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) for cardiovascular disorders have employed doses defined for other pharmacological effects of the drug (such as analgesic effects). Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms with different dose-response relationships may contribute to the clinical effect of aspirin in cardiovascular disease. The optimal aspirin dose remains uncertain. Although the difference between 325 mg/day and 81 mg/day of aspirin sounds trivial, finding an optimal aspirin dose has enormous potential to reduce ischemic events. Large aspirin doses have not been associated with proportionally greater benefit. For patients with ischemic heart disease, overall consensus defines a range between 75 and 160 mg/day for the secondary prevention of myocardial infarction, stroke, and vascular death. Any benefit of aspirin must be measured against its adverse effects, principally gastrointestinal hemorrhage. The potential for adverse bleeding events may be lower with a 81mg dose, while maintaining clinical benefit. Although current aggregate data is reassuring about aspirin administration, it is increasingly clear that existing aspirin studies are insufficient to conclusively determine an optimal aspirin dose. Platelets can be activated by pathways that are not blocked by aspirin, and the dose of aspirin needed to fully suppress platelet aggregation may be higher in some patients as a result. Higher doses of aspirin than are currently used (75-325 mg/day) may be required in these patients to achieve desired antithrombotic effects. Better understanding of aspirin-resistant populations will facilitate identification of patients who require higher aspirin doses or alternative forms of antiplatelet therapy.
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