Public Release: 

Take 2 aspirin and make sure you're not allergic

Cardiac patients are often misdiagnosed with aspirin allergy

American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

SAN ANTONIO, TX (November 5, 2015) - Many patients with cardiovascular disease are treated with aspirin because it is effective, low-cost and has few side effects. Some patients who have a reaction to aspirin are told they are allergic without being tested by an allergist, and stop an otherwise effective therapy.

According to a study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting, 34 percent of patients studied were mistakenly labeled as having aspirin hypersensitivity if they had a history of any gastrointestinal symptoms. The study authors reviewed 5,052 medical records and found aspirin hypersensitivity in only 2.5 percent (131) of the patients. Hypersensitivity is an exaggerated immune response by the body to an agent - but is not the same as a diagnosed allergy.

"Our study showed none of the patients that were determined to have aspirin hypersensitivity were referred to an allergist for testing to determine if they had a true allergy," said Gabriela Orgeron, MD, lead author. "In addition, we found that patients with GI symptoms were mislabeled as having aspirin allergy, which likely deprived them of being treated with aspirin in the future."

While one patient in the study had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) and one patient had respiratory symptoms, skin reactions were the most commonly documented reaction - found in 19 percent of the patients. In 39 percent of the cases there was not proper documentation of the type of reaction that occurred.

"It's very important that, similar to penicillin, anyone thought to have an aspirin allergy be referred to an allergist for testing," said allergist and study author Sudhir Sekhsaria, MD, ACAAI fellow. "In cases such as those shown in the study, patients are frequently told to discontinue aspirin therapy or are switched to another medication when there is no reason to do so. Allergists can help identify true allergies, and if they are present, help patients find the right course of therapy. If there is not a true allergy, they can help explore how to manage symptoms."


Abstract Title: Prevalence and Management of Aspirin Hypersensitivity in the Outpatient Cardiology Practice
Author: Sudhir Sekhsaria, MD, ACAAI fellow

For more information about allergies and to locate an allergist in your area, visit The ACAAI Annual Meeting is November 5-9, 2015 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, TX. For more news and research being presented at the ACAAI Annual Scientific Meeting, follow the conversation on Twitter #ACAAI.


The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

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