Officials discourage aspirin use in combat zones.Defense Department officials are directing service members and government civilians deployed in overseas war zones to refrain from taking aspirin aspirin, acetyl derivative of salicylic acid (see salicylate) that is used to lower fever, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and thin the blood. Common conditions treated with aspirin include headache, muscle and joint pain, and the inflammation caused by rheumatic unless under a doctor's orders.
"Aspirin use for reasons other than medical indications is discouraged," said Army Col. (Dr.) Tony Carter Antonio Marcus Carter (born August 23, 1972 in Columbus, Ohio) was a running back who played nine seasons in the National Football League. , director for operational medicine and medical force readiness under the deputy assistant secretary of defense for force health protection, a component of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.
Military medical authorities also advise that troops slated for deployment to combat zones should cease taking aspirin at least 10 days before departure, Dr. Carter told Pentagon Channel The Pentagon Channel is a TV channel broadcasting military news and information for the 2.6 million members of the U.S. Armed Forces. It is widely available on US cable television, can be viewed FTA in Europe, Africa, the Americas and most of Asia via satellite, and can be viewed and American Forces Press Service reporters.
Aspirin is "a platelet-inhibitor," Dr. Carter explained. Platelets are small cells floating in the blood that induce hemostasis--the process that causes bleeding to stop through the forming of blood clots Blood Clots Definition
A blood clot is a thickened mass in the blood formed by tiny substances called platelets. Clots form to stop bleeding, such as at the site of cut. . Low amounts of blood platelets can lead to excessive bleeding.
"Those platelets serve an important role in stopping bleeding once it occurs," Dr. Carter said.
Then-Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. S. Ward Casscells III signed a March 12 memorandum that noted aspirin use by troops deployed in contingency areas could contribute to excessive bleeding in the event of wounding or injury.
Blood loss is the most common cause of preventable death associated with combat injuries, the memorandum said.
Dr. Carter recalled Dr. Casscells asking his staff if the military was discouraging aspirin use by people deploying to combat zones where they stood risk of injury. The answer at the time was no, Dr. Carter said.
The subsequent memorandum, Dr. Carter said, also directed the cessation of "over-the-counter access" to aspirin through Army and Air Force Exchange Service The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (or AAFES) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense. Its mission is to provide quality merchandise and services of necessity and convenience to authorized customers at uniformly low prices, and to generate reasonable outlets or morale, welfare and recreation Morale, Welfare and Recreation is a network of support and leisure services designed for use by soldiers (active, Reserve, and Guard), their families, civilian employees, military retirees and other eligible participants. activities in war zones. AAFES has jurisdiction over Army post exchanges and Air Force base exchanges.
AAFES is complying with the Health Affairs-issued memorandum, noting in a news release that its "operations in contingency locations are removing all products containing aspirin from their shelves."
The intent of the new policy, Dr. Carter said, is to "discourage the inadvertent use of aspirin" in combat zones. People who routinely take small doses of aspirin per doctors' orders to maintain vascular health should be all right, he said, but they should consult their physician.
Service members and civilians could substitute over-the-counter, non-aspirin-based medications--such as Tylenol or Motrin--for treatment of colds, fever, muscle aches and other maladies, Dr. Carter said.
"I think we should take every measure possible to make sure that we minimize blood loss," Dr. Carter said. "And not taking aspirin, unless you need to take it, is one of those mechanisms that we want to use." (Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service)