Aspirin is best known as an over-the-counter painkiller. But acetylsalicylic acid, as it’s called chemically, has many other health benefits, as well as side effects, in the body that have only become clear in recent years.
Here’s what the latest science says about the health benefits and side effects of aspirin, as well as which conditions it may treat and those it doesn’t appear to improve. (If you are taking aspirin for any reason other than for periodic pain relief, it’s best to consult with your doctor to confirm whether the benefits outweigh the risks in your particular case.)
How aspirin affects heart health
Aspirin’s second-best known effect is its ability to protect the heart. In people with heart disease who have already had a heart attack, it has been shown to lower the risk of having another. Studies consistently show that people who have had heart attacks or strokes and who take a low-dose aspirin (also known as baby aspirin, which at 81 mg is about a quarter of the dose of regular-strength aspirin) a day can significantly reduce their risk of having another event.