Aspirin has been in our medicine cabinets for over 100 years. This safe and low-cost medication has a wide range of uses, including pain relief, fever reduction, treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases and even potential prevention of certain cancers and reduction of the brain plaques than cause Alzheimer’s disease.
In laboratory studies, aspirin has even shown the potential to help the body fight off certain viruses, including rhinoviruses and influenza A H1N1. This has led researchers to investigate whether aspirin may help protect the body against the virus that’s been plaguing us for over a year now…
Aspirin and potential COVID-19 prevention
Israeli researchers have discovered that use of a low, 75 mg dose of aspirin for cardiovascular disease prevention in healthy individuals may make them less susceptible to COVID-19, as well as reduce the duration of the disease in those who contract it.
Many doctors prescribed aspirin to treat people during the 1918 influenza pandemic, though they often gave doses that were way too high and poisoned their patients. Several decades later, studies showed that aspirin could modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses, helping the human immune system battle some viral infections.
The Israeli research team used these findings as a jumping-off point for their own observational study. They analyzed data from 10,477 people who had been tested for COVID-19 during the first wave from Feb. 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020. The data was provided by Leumit Health Services, a national health maintenance organization in Israel.
Results showed healthy individuals who used aspirin to avoid the development of cardiovascular diseases had a 29 percent lower likelihood of COVID-19 infection compared with aspirin non-users. The proportion of aspirin-treated patients was significantly lower among those who tested positive for COVID-19 than those who tested negative.
In addition, researchers observed it took a lot less time for aspirin-using patients who did test positive for COVID to see their SARS-CoV-2 PCR test results go from positive to negative. And their disease duration was two to three days shorter, depending on the patients’ pre-existing conditions.
Some studies have revealed that platelets can associate with SARS-CoV-2 RNA and are activated in response to COVID-19 infection. However, the Israeli research team says further studies are needed to find out whether aspirin can disrupt the interaction between SARS-CoV-2 and targets on platelets, delaying viral infection and spread within the body.
“This observation of the possible beneficial effect of low doses of aspirin on COVID-19 infection is preliminary but seems very promising,” says study leader Eli Magen from the Barzilai Medical Center.
The researchers stress it’s important to repeat and verify the study results using larger samples and including patients from other hospitals and countries. They intend to investigate the potential favorable effects of aspirin in helping the human immune system battle COVID-19 in a larger cohort of patients and in randomized clinical trials.
Be careful when using aspirin
It’s clear aspirin can do a lot of good for our health. In recent years, however, we’ve started to see some of aspirin’s downsides. The reason aspirin can help prevent heart attacks is that it inhibits the platelets that can form blood clots in arteries. However, this property also raises the risk of bleeding, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract.
For this reason, you shouldn’t use aspirin for preventing heart attack unless your doctor specifically recommends it to you. And definitely don’t use aspirin without your doctor’s input if you are over 70, have any condition with an increased risk of bleeding, or use steroids, anticoagulants or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen.
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To find out about these and more, click here!
2019 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease — American College of Cardiology
Ten Myths About the 1918 Flu Pandemic — Smithsonian Magazine
Antiviral activity of aspirin against RNA viruses of the respiratory tract—an in vitro study — Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses