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Antiplatelets: Low dose aspirin and clopidogrel

Antiplatelet drugs are used to treat heart disease. Examples of antiplatelets include clopidogrel and low-dose aspirin.

These medications help prevent blood clots forming, which can cause a stroke or heart attack.

Platelets' role in the blood is to start healing a wound by grouping together and forming a blood clot to stop the bleeding.

However, this action can be potentially harmful when the injury is inside the body and involves an artery affected by atherosclerosis.

Antiplatelet medications curb the clotting.

When are antiplatelets used?

Antiplatelets may be recommended for people with conditions, including:

Antiplatelets may also be used after procedures, including angioplasty and stent placement, and heart surgery.

Antiplatelet guidance

The dose and instructions for taking the tablets will be given by the doctor. They should not be taken on an empty stomach.

You should not stop taking your antiplatelet drug unless advised by your doctor.

Regular blood tests will be needed to monitor the medication dosage.

Care will need to be taken when selecting medication for other health problems, such as painkillers and cold relief products, to make sure they are aspirin-free.

Make sure doctors and dentists know about the antiplatelets before any procedures or operations because of the risk of excessive bleeding. Women planning a pregnancy should talk to their doctor about antiplatelets. Later in pregnancy they may cause bleeding problems in the baby or mum before and after delivery.

Antiplatelets can be passed to the baby through breast milk. However, their effect on breastfeeding infants is unknown. Discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor.

Side effects of antiplatelets

Side effects of antiplatelets include:

Seek medical advice if there's any unusual bleeding, including blood in urine or poo, nosebleeds and any unusual bruising.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 23, 2015

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