Blood Clotting Disorder Treatment Antiplatelet Drugs

Antiplatelet drugs are a group of drugs that reduce the amount of blood clotting that occurs after injury or stress.

When an injury occurs, platelets in the blood group together at the site to form clots, or masses, to prevent continuous bleeding. This is a very good thing in most instances, as it helps our bodies begin to heal and prevents excessive blood loss. However, clotting that occurs within the heart or the cardiovascular system can have negative health effects. To prevent excessive clotting, antiplatelet drugs are sometimes necessary.

Antiplatelet Drugs and Clotting

Antiplatelet drugs may be prescribed for a variety of cardiovascular conditions in which a reduction in the amount of clotting factors, the proteins in the blood that cause blood to clot, would be beneficial. These conditions include:

Antiplatelet drugs can also be prescribed following heart surgeries, such as angioplasty and coronary bypass, to keep the arteries clear of clots. Antiplatelet drugs are most effective in assisting arterial circulation (circulation of blood in the arteries) where other drugs fall short.

Common Antiplatelet Drugs

Aspirin is the most commonly prescribed antiplatelet drug. Other antiplatelet drugs include Clopidogrel (brand name Plavix®) and Ticlopidine (brand name Ticlid®).

Most antiplatelet drugs are taken orally once or twice a day based on the condition for which they are prescribed. Some antiplatelet drugs, such as ReoPro® and Aggrastat®, are administered intravenously in a hospital.

Side Effects of Antiplatelet Drugs

Antiplatelet drugs, like all other drugs, do have side effects. The most common of these include:

  • diarrhea
  • itchiness
  • nausea
  • rash
  • stomach pain.

Taking the drugs with a meal may reduce nausea and upset stomach. Side effects may be amplified in people who suffer from asthma or severe allergies.

More serious side effects requiring immediate medical consultation include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • difficulty swallowing
  • dizziness
  • excessive bleeding, including nosebleeds, bloody urine or stool, coughing up blood and unusually heavy menstruation
  • fever
  • ringing in the ears
  • severe headache
  • severe stomach pains
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • swelling in the face and hands
  • tightness in the chest.

Precautions for Antiplatelet Drugs

Many of the conditions for which antiplatelet medications are prescribed require that the individual remain on the drugs for an extended period of time. Doctors will regularly administer blood tests to determine the blood’s clotting ability and will adjust dosages accordingly.

Individuals who are taking antiplatelet drugs should advise all doctors, dentists and medical professionals of their usage before any treatment is administered or other drugs are prescribed.

Antiplatelet Drugs: Not for Everyone

People with food or drug allergies should inform their physician prior to taking antiplatelet drugs. Those who have had prior negative reactions to antiplatelet drugs also should discuss these incidences with their doctors.

Women who are pregnant or who are planning on becoming pregnant should not take antiplatelet drugs, as they may cause serious problems such as:

  • birth defects
  • problems in the physical and mental development of the child
  • severe fetal bleeding.

Women who are breastfeeding should discuss this with their doctor, as some antiplatelet drugs can be passed through breast milk.

Patients considering taking antiplatelet drugs should discuss other medications they are taking with the doctor, as there are many drugs that can have negative antiplatelet drug interactions.

Resources

Health AtoZ (n.d.). Anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs. Retrieved September 24, 2007, from the Health AtoZ Web site: http://www.healthatoz.com/healthatoz/Atoz/common/standard/transform.jsp?requestURI=/healthatoz/Atoz/ency/anticoagulant_and_antiplatelet_drugs.jsp.

The Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center (n.d.). Antiplatelet Drugs. Retrieved September 24, 2007, from the Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center Web site: http://www.clevelandclinic.org/health/health-info/docs/3900/3990.asp?index=12862.