Antiplatelet agents

Antiplatelet agents lower your chance of having a heart attack or stroke caused by blood clots. If you do have a heart attack, they can help to limit any damage to your heart.

Types of antiplatelet agents

  • Aspirin
  • Dipyridamole 
  • Clopidogrel e.g. Arrow-Clopid, Clopidogrel Sandoz
  • Ticagrelor e.g. Brilinta

How do they work?

Platelets can be thought of as the part of blood that causes clots to form. Antiplatelet agents work against platelets to lower the risk of clots forming inside blood vessels. A clot in a blood vessel can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Aspirin is the original antiplatelet agent. At a low dose aspirin stops your blood from clotting so easily. It also reduces inflammation in the arteries that can trigger a heart attack. 

Larger doses of aspirin are not recommended for the prevention of heart attack and stroke. Sometimes larger doses of aspirin are used for short-term pain relief, but these doses are not needed to stop your blood from clotting so easily, and can cause unnecessary gastric irritation.

What's the catch?

You may bruise more easily.

Aspirin can, despite the low dose, cause gastric irritation and bleeding, especially if taken with certain other medications. Check with your doctor or pharmacist that taking aspirin won't interfere with any other medications you may be taking.

What should I look out for?

Although you shouldn't need any checks when taking aspirin, there are some important things to look out for.

Contact your doctor immediately if you:

  • get stomach pain
  • have ringing in your ears
  • have a severe headache
  • pass black tarry stools.

Related treatments and conditions

AnginaAngioplastyHeart attack

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