Acetylsalicylic acid

Synonyms: Aspirin

Medical Specialties: Cardiology, Family practice, Internal medicine

Clinical Definition

Acetylsalicylic acid, also known as aspirin, is classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical agent. It contains salicylic acid, the active metabolite that inhibits prostaglandins. 


Acetylsalicylic acid is used as an antipyretic and analgesic. It is also sometimes prescribed as antiplatelet agent in order to reduce the risk of a myocardial infarction and cerebrovascular accident. 

In Our Own Words

Acetylsalicylic acid — typically referred to as aspirin — is a common over-the-counter medication used to treat inflammation, pain and fever. It works by decreasing the effects of prostaglandins (i.e., chemicals in the body that influence pain signals).


Aspirin also thins the blood. Because of this clot-preventing property and subsequent higher risk of heart attack or stroke, low-dose aspirin is sometimes recommended.

Relevant Conditions
Side Effects
Share this article
  • The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Aspirin: The Basics.” Accessed February 2014.
  • UC Davis Health System. “Who should consider taking a daily aspirin?” Accessed February 2014.
  • University of Washington Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. “Aspirin and Related Drugs.” Accessed February 2014.
Keep Reading

Investigate your bodys signs and signals.
Try Symptom Checker