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Lawrence Craven

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Lawrence Craven
(1883 - August 15, 1957)
Born in the United States
Year of Discovery: 1950

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Showed Aspirin Busts Blood Clots, Saves Lives

A key observation, made by California family physician Lawrence Craven, forever changed the treatment of heart disease. While performing routine tonsillectomies and tooth extractions, Craven made a significant connection: his patients who had been chewing aspirin gum to relieve their pain typically also had bleeding gums, and they experienced more frequent bleeding after minor surgeries. He hypothesized that aspirin prolonged the time it takes for blood to clot. Knowing that blood clots caused heart attacks, he recommended his male patients between 40 and 65 years of age take preventative doses of aspirin. Craven then closely followed 400 of his patients for the next two years and discovered that not a single patient had a heart attack.

Dr. Craven published a letter to a small regional medical journal in 1950 describing his findings. He detailed the excessive bleeding complications after tonsillectomy, suggesting aspirin has properties that prevent or delay blood clots. Unfortunately, this publication of his findings received little notice within the medical community. But Craven was not deterred. Though he was not able to fully explain why aspirin worked, he was encouraged by his results. So he expanded his study to include 8,000 men. Craven selected men, between the ages of 45 and 65, who were overweight and sedentary, factors known to lead to heart attacks. He prescribed a daily regimen of aspirin and recorded his findings. Less than a year before his death, in 1957, Craven published his final report on his 8000 patients. Not a single study patient taking aspirin therapy had died from a blood clot! Craven's original recommendations for aspirin therapy are not much different from today's guidelines, over half a century later. His efforts paved the way for future research in this area by scientists like Charles Hennekens.

Some of Craven's work was criticized by the scientific community because it was purely observational. Yet, observation often leads to the questions that set in motion significant scientific advancements. In an effort to convince people of the work's significance and verify the decrease in clotting ability, he performed an experiment on himself. In 1950 he wrote, "Ingestion of 12 aspirin tablets daily resulted after five days in spontaneous profuse nosebleed. In order to check on the reliability of this observation the test was repeated twice over, with precisely the same results. The proof seemed to be all the more convincing as the author had not experienced nosebleed for more than fifty years."

All of Craven's study patients were men, because part of his hypothesis was based on his observation that more men than women were suffering heart attacks. At this time, women were more likely than men to take aspirin for everyday aches and pains, which he felt might explain gender differences in the incidence of heart attacks. In fact, Craven noted that some of his male patients initially thought taking aspirin every day was a bit feminine!

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Introduction by April Ingram



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Table of Contents

Introduction
Links to More Information About the Scientist
Key Insight
Key Experiment or Research
Key Contributors
Quotes by the Scientist
Quotes About the Scientist
Anecdotes
Similar Scientists
Fun Trivia About The Science
The Science Behind the Discovery
Personal Information
Science Discovery Timeline
Recommended Books About the Science
Books by the Scientist
Books About the Scientist
Awards
Major Academic Papers
Curriculum Vitae
Links to Science and Related Information on the Subject
Sources

 








Links to More About the Scientist & the Science

The New York Times article on Dr. Craven:

Texas Heart Institute Journal
article on daily aspirin use, noting Craven's discovery:



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Key Insight




Key Experiments or Research

 



Key Contributors

The Team
Explore other scientists who furthered this lifesaving advance.

Lifesavers: Aspirin

Charles Hennekens
Led the first significant clinical trial showing aspirin prevents heart attacks.
Paul Gibson
Laid the foundation for "an aspirin a day keeps the cardiologist away" treatment.



Quotes by the Scientist




Quotes About the Scientist




Anecdotes



Similar Scientists

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Pasteur was responsible for several major scientific discoveries

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Bernard Belleau(64)

Invented the anti-AIDS drug, 3TC

Invented new AIDS drug with far fewer side effects.

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Lawrence Craven(67)

Used aspirin to prevent heart attacks

Showed aspirin busts blood clots and saves lives.

More...
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Fun Trivia About the Science




The Science Behind the Discovery



Personal Information



Scientific Discovery Timeline




Recommended Books About the Science




Books by the Scientist




Books About the Scientist

 



Awards




Major Academic Papers Written by the Scientist



Curriculum Vitae



Links to Information on the Science





Sources/References