Aspirin – soluble or tablet?

Aspirin 75mg is commonly prescribed to reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack but should it be soluble or in tablet form?

Aspirin is available in either an enteric-coated (EC) form or as a disposable tablet but is absorbed by the body in 2 different ways. The enteric coating prevents the tablet disintegrating in the stomach and so the aspirin is absorbed in the duodenum, whereas the soluble form of aspirin is rapidly absorbed in the stomach.

As with all medicine there can side effects to taking aspirin, the most common being nausea, indigestion and vomiting, but these may be minimised by taking it with food and by keeping to a low dosage.

Historically, the enteric-coated aspirin has been the aspirin of choice and prescribed by doctors with patients who had experienced indigestion or other mild gastric problems.  However, recent studies have concluded there is no evidence that a daily dose of 75mg as an enteric-coated tablet reduces the risk of resulting major gastro-intestinal problems when compared to taking it in its soluble form.

Many GP practices have since been switching their patients over to the soluble form of aspirin 75g as it is cheaper to prescribe than the enteric-coated equivalent.

As a prescribed daily 75g dose of aspirin is effective in reducing the risk of a stroke or heart attack in whichever form it is taken then it should not be stopped if any gastric symptoms are experienced.  However, if a patient does experience gastric problems then the soluble form can be taken dispersed in water as this way it is less likely to cause side effects since it is not concentrated in one part of the stomach.

If you experience any gastric problems whilst taking a daily dose of 75g of aspirin then it is important to mention it to your GP.  Many patients, however, are able to take 75g dispersible tablets without problems on a long-term basis.


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