SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Aspirin is often used to relieve minor aches and pains, arthritis, and even to protect your heart.

But there are so many kinds of aspirin: coated, uncoated, low dose, chewable, extended release: what’s the best kind to use and in what situation?

Manufacturers coat aspirin so it won’t taste bad, burn your throat or upset your stomach.

One type of coated aspirin is called enteric aspirin. Enteric aspirin is designed to dissolve in the colon, not the stomach, but that does not make it safer.

Enteric coatings do not reduce the risk of significant stomach bleeding and they even have some drawbacks.

By slowing the dissolving and absorption of aspirin, the enteric coating delays maximum pain relief by up to four hours, and may also make the aspirin less effective.

As for your heart? If you’re a candidate for low dose aspirin therapy, you can take either coated or uncoated aspirin. But if you’re having a heart attack, chew an uncoated aspirin, because it will get into your blood stream faster.

Make sure to check with your health care provider if you’re taking aspirin on a regular basis to prevent heart attack or stroke, or other chronic problems and let your doctors know if you’re taking other medications, supplements or herbal preparations.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)