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Medical English

Apples and Aspirin / By Tom Secrest

Apples and Aspirin

There’s an old proverb which goes something like this, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This little bit of wisdom, in a somewhat modified version, probably had its origin in Wales and dates back to the second half of the 19th century. It was certainly true, as we now know that apples have potential health benefits ranging from strengthening the immune system (vitamin C) and reducing cholesterol (phenols), to possibly offering protection from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinsonism (phytonutrients).

However, we have a new maxim to consider today. “An aspirin a day keeps the doctor away.” Acetylsalicylic acid was first concocted by the French chemist Charles Gerhardt in1853 and patented under the name of aspirin in 1899. Today, an estimated 40,000 metric tons of aspirin are consumed annually. Despite its old age, this geriatric pharmaceutical friend still has value. No longer used in high doses as an anti-inflammatory agent, it has found a new lease on life in the form of small, daily doses of less than 100 mg.

New medical guidelines (The Annals of Internal Medicine, March 2009) now suggest that an aspirin a day for men over 45 and women over 55 should be considered in preventive therapy for myocardial infarctions and strokes, respectively. Data from various studies continues to trickle in, with each new study providing more and more guidance as to who should receive aspirin and what dose they should take. However, all the facts are not yet in and, for now, patients need to understand both the risks (e.g. GI bleeding, hemorrhagic stroke, etc.) and the benefits (reduced risk of MI and CVA) of daily aspirin. The responsibility falls on the shoulders of the physician, to assess the patient's risk factors, clearly explain the benefits and risks and perhaps suggest that, along with an apple a day, they should also include a low-dose aspirin tablet, as well.


  • proverb – přísloví
  • wisdom – moudrost
  • health benefits – přínosy pro zdraví
  • to offer protection – nabízet ochranu
  • maxim – zásada, výrok, rčení
  • to consider – zvážit, uvážit, vzít v úvahu
  • to concoct – laboratorně připravit (dosl. uvařit)
  • to estimate - odhadnout
  • despite – přes, nehledě na
  • lease – lhůta, trvání
  • guidelines – závazná doporučení, pokyny
  • stroke – mozková mrtvice, cévní mozková příhoda
  • trickle in – přicházejí po kapkách
  • guidance – směrnice, vodítko
  • MI – infarkt myokartu (myocardial infarction)
  • CVA – mozková mrtvice (cerebrovascular accident)
  • to assess - odhadnout


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