New insights into the mechanisms of action of aspirin and its use in the prevention and treatment of arterial and venous thromboembolism

Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2015 Sep 24;11:1449-56. doi: 10.2147/TCRM.S92222. eCollection 2015.


The antithrombotic action of aspirin has long been recognized. Aspirin inhibits platelet function through irreversible inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX) activity. Until recently, aspirin has been mainly used for primary and secondary prevention of arterial antithrombotic events. The aim of this study was to review the literature with regard to the various mechanisms of the newly discovered effects of aspirin in the prevention of the initiation and development of venous thrombosis. For this purpose, we used relevant data from the latest numerous scientific studies, including review articles, original research articles, double-blinded randomized controlled trials, a prospective combined analysis, a meta-analysis of randomized trials, evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, and multicenter studies. Aspirin is used in the prevention of venous thromboembolism (VTE), especially the prevention of recurrent VTE in patients with unprovoked VTE who were treated with vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) or with non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs). Numerous studies have shown that aspirin reduces the rate of recurrent VTE in patients, following cessation of VKAs or NOACs. Furthermore, low doses of aspirin are suitable for long-term therapy in patients recovering from orthopedic or other surgeries. Aspirin is indicated for the primary and secondary prevention as well as the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, including acute coronary syndrome, myocardial infarction, peripheral artery disease, acute ischemic stroke, and transient ischemic attack (especially in atrial fibrillation or mechanical heart valves). Aspirin can prevent or treat recurrent unprovoked VTEs as well as VTEs occurring after various surgeries or in patients with malignant disease. Recent trials have suggested that the long-term use of low-dose aspirin is effective not only in the prevention and treatment of arterial thrombosis but also in the prevention and treatment of VTE. Compared with VKAs and NOACs, aspirin has a reduced risk of bleeding.

Keywords: arterial thrombosis; cyclooxygenase inhibitor; platelet; recurrent VTE.

Publication types

  • Review