Plavix (clopidogrel): uses, dosage, and side effects

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Plavix (clopidogrel) is a blood thinner used to prevent conditions caused by blood clots, such as heart attacks and strokes . Plavix is an oral prescription medication. You may need to take it if you have previously had health problems related to blood clots or if you are at risk of developing any of these conditions.

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Indications

If you have risk factors that make you more prone to developing blood clots , your healthcare provider may prescribe Plavix. When taken regularly as prescribed, this drug is expected to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. Plavix is approved for a variety of applications.

Post-stentotherapy

One of the most common uses of clopidogrel is post-stentotherapy. After a stent (a tube that is inserted into an artery to support blood flow) is placed, Plavix may be prescribed to prevent stent thrombosis and other associated complications after the procedure.

Acute coronary syndrome

Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is a condition in which blood flow in the coronary arteries (blood vessels that supply the heart muscle) is blocked. ACS includes myocardial infarction (MI) and angina pectoris (chest pain).

Recent myocardial infarction

If you have had a heart attack, also described as a heart attack, your healthcare provider may prescribe Plavix to prevent additional blood clots from forming in your heart or elsewhere in your body.

Myocardial infarction is a blockage of the coronary arteries, which usually causes severe chest pain and shortness of breath. These blood vessels carry blood to the muscles, providing oxygen and nutrients, so the heart muscles can contract at a normal rate.

If you have had a heart attack, it means that the heart muscles may have been damaged due to lack of blood supply. Ultimately, the result is dysfunctional pumping of the heart, which can deprive the body of an efficient blood supply.

Recent or recurrent angina pectoris

If you have had one or more episodes of chest pain due to a blocked coronary artery, this is called angina . This usually means that the heart muscles are deprived of oxygen for a time.

Myocardial infarction is almost always accompanied by angina, but it is sometimes possible to experience a brief, reversible episode of angina without permanent damage to the heart. However, this type of chest pain is a serious warning that you are at risk for a heart attack.

Recent stroke

A stroke is damage to the brain caused by decreased blood supply to a specific area of the brain. This can lead to symptoms such as weakness, vision changes, or speech problems.

Peripheral arterial disease identified

If you develop atherosclerosis of the blood vessels in your feet, legs, or arms, you may develop symptoms of pain or numbness, and your healthcare provider may detect a weak pulse on a physical exam.

If you have recently had a heart attack, stroke, or peripheral artery disease, you may be at risk for blood clots, which can cause a heart attack, another stroke, or a sudden blockage of the blood vessels in your arms, legs, or intestines. … For this reason, your healthcare provider may prescribe Plavix.

Other use

Note that you may be at risk of blood clots even if you do not have the exact indication described. If Plavix is the best option to protect against blood clots, your healthcare provider may prescribe it off-label without an FDA-approved instruction.

If you are taking an off-label drug, be sure to take it as directed and remember that the side effects and drug interactions described for these uses still apply to you.

Dose

Plavix is taken once a day at a dose of 75 mg. Plavix is manufactured and sold by the French pharmaceutical multinational Sanofi. There are also generic versions of clopidogrel that are available in the United States and some other countries.

In some cases, such as angina or heart attack, you may be given a loading dose before your usual daily Plavix intake. The loading dose is a 300 mg single-use tablet that helps activate the blood-thinning effect of Plavix faster.

How does it work

Plavix prevents platelets from sticking together. Platelets are small particles in the blood that collect and clump together to form a blood clot, usually to protect against excessive bleeding when you have an injury inside or outside of your body.

Plavix has an antiplatelet effect, sticking to the surface of platelets and disabling their ability to stick. Although Plavix may be prescribed to prevent unwanted blood clots, this drug can also cause excessive bleeding, which is its most common side effect.

Plavix and other blood thinners

It is important for you to know that although Plavix is one of the many anticoagulants used to prevent blood clots, the different anticoagulants do not work in the same way. Your healthcare provider may choose one blood thinner over another because of their different mechanisms of action and different effects on the body. For example, another blood thinner, heparin , is used intravenously. It has a faster onset of action and a shorter duration of action than Plavix. Heparin is often used in emergencies, such as during a heart attack or stroke.

Aspirin, which interferes with enzymes that promote blood clotting, is another widely used oral anticoagulant. Your healthcare provider can prescribe both Plavix and aspirin at the same time. Although they both thin the blood, they work in different ways and their additive effect can be beneficial in some cases.

Side effects

There are a number of side effects that can occur when using Plavix.

Excessive bleeding, the most common side effect of Plavix, can occur almost anywhere on the body.

Excessive bleeding can cause a variety of other symptoms, including:

  • Prolonged bleeding after a cut.
  • Bruising, even after a slight bump
  • Slow wound healing
  • Gastric and / or intestinal bleeding or ulcer
  • Hemorrhagic stroke (brain hemorrhage)

Gastric and / or intestinal ulcers or bleeding can cause the following symptoms:

  • Blood in the stool
  • Dark, tarry stools
  • Coughing up or spitting up blood
  • Vomiting blood
  • Blood in the urine

Also, hemorrhagic stroke can cause other symptoms such as sudden, sudden, or unusual headache, vision changes, seizures, weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg, inability to speak or understand language, and general confusion.

Risks

There are additional risks to taking Plavix.

Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). This extremely rare condition is characterized by the formation of blood clots in the body's small blood vessels, which can be accompanied by anemia (decreased function of red blood cells) and low platelet counts. TTP can develop within a few weeks after using Plavix.

Symptoms can include small unexplained bruises, pain anywhere on the body, and fever. It can cause brain or kidney damage, can be life-threatening, and requires urgent treatment, often with a procedure called plasma exchange.

Allergic reaction. An allergic reaction to Plavix, which is rare, can cause a rash and itching, and can also cause a life-threatening skin reaction called Stevens-Johnson syndrome, in which the skin may peel off as if it has severe burns. Allergies can start a few weeks after you start taking Plavix.

Drug reactions

Do not use another blood thinner if you are taking Plavix. Although often used with aspirin, this combination may increase the risk of bleeding and you should not combine Plavix with another blood thinner unless your healthcare professional recommends this combination for your specific circumstances.

Contraindications

According to the manufacturer, Plavix cannot be used with the following medications:

  • Omeprazole or esomeprazole. Both are used to treat ulcers, heartburn, and gastrointestinal reflux.
  • Opioids. These highly addictive medications are used for pain relief.
  • Warfarin It is a blood thinner that interferes with the production of vitamin K (a vitamin that promotes blood clotting).
  • Antidepressants This includes serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
  • Repaglinide. It is a medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes.

Stop taking Plavix

Abrupt discontinuation of Plavix was associated with an increased risk of blood clots. If you experience serious side effects, your healthcare provider may ask you to stop taking Plavix. After you stop taking Plavix, a withdrawal effect occurs, so it is not safe to suddenly stop taking it without consulting your doctor.

If you stop taking a medicine, be sure to talk to your doctor, who can give you a schedule to gradually reduce the dose of the medicine over a period of time.

Get the word of drug information

While there are risks associated with taking Plavix, for people with certain serious medical conditions, using Plavix can also have significant benefits. However, be sure to read the risks and learn to recognize the side effects if you are taking Plavix.

In addition to taking Plavix, it is vital to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke , and vascular disease. Risk reduction strategies include maintaining optimal blood pressure, striving for target blood sugar levels, and keeping cholesterol and triglyceride levels low. These goals can be achieved by combining diet, exercise, and medication.

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