Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco recently completed a study of intravenous aspirin–or aspirin which is given to a patient via an IV line instead of in the regular tablet form–which concluded that it is moderately effective for those suffering from headaches. This shouldn’t be any surprise as aspirin is used by millions of people the world over in order to relieve pain. Nonetheless, the study had a number of limitations which include the fact that there was no placebo group and the researchers got their information by reviewing the medical charts of people who were given intravenous aspirin.
How safe is aspirin?
This seemingly simple question has a complex answer as aspirin is viewed as an overall safe medication, however, it does increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding in addition to other possible side effects. Even patients who are on low-dose aspirin for the prevention of heart disease are at increased risk for gastrointestinal bleeding. While many people take a low-dose aspirin daily to prevent heart disease, there is controversy over whether aspirin does more harm than good in certain patients. Much more effective for the prevention of a first time heart attack might include controlling a patient’s high blood pressure and prescribing cholesterol lowering medication if needed.
How safe is intravenous aspirin?
The use of intravenous aspirin has not been well studied in the United States because aspirin in this form is not readily available. The study’s authors envision a scenario where migraine sufferers, who may be treated in a hospital’s emergency room, could be given intravenous aspirin to relieve their headache.
However, pain on adult medical wards in the hospital is quite common, and the use intravenous aspirin could potentially be used for patients other than the headache sufferer. This could be problematic as hospitalized patients may have a higher risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, and use of intravenous aspirin in this population of people could be more dangerous than in the general population.
Hopefully, more research will be done to clarify this matter further. A study comparing intravenous to tablet-form aspirin in the care of heart attack victims will be completed in September 2010 and could provide more information about how safe IV aspirin is.