Friday, February 24, 2012

The Aspirin Controversy

Based on a talk at Dr. Purser’s wellness group, Bradenton, FL

Aspirin, a widely used and easily available drug is as ubiquitous as Jell-O, both products got their present name around the same time in the year 1897. Ever since its formulation, aspirin has courted its share of controversy. Aspirin contains salicylate, which is derived from the Willow plant. Hippocrates, regarded as the father of Western Medicine first described the pain killing properties of Willow bark. These observations were also made by other civilizations down the ages until they were scientifically proven with modern day methods. The active pain killing ingredient in the Willow plant was isolated in 1826, which was then modified over the course of the next several decades. In 1897, Felix Hoffmann, a German chemist working for Bayer formulated aspirin in its present form. It almost did not make it to the market. A competing drug, heroin, was about to be launched by Bayer as a cough remedy. Luckily, someone important at Bayer was convinced of its healing properties having tried it on himself. Aspirin then made it to the market as a pain reliever. Several decades later, scientists discovered that the chemical innovations that led to the formulation of aspirin from salicylic acid were instrumental in aspirin’s role in preventing strokes and heart attacks. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Know your VEINS

Talk given at Heart to Heart: A Women’s Health Forum on February 4, 2012, Lakewood Ranch FL.

February is Heart Month. You will likely hear a lot about cardiovascular diseases with a special emphasis on risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle, and diabetes. One or more of these risk factors may contribute to blood vessel blockage that can have catastrophic consequences such as heart attacks and strokes. However, this is only part of the story.