What is antiplatelets?

After a Stroke: Taking an Antiplatelet

What are some examples of antiplatelet medicines used after a stroke?

  • Aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin, Ecotrin)
  • Aspirin with dipyridamole (Aggrenox)
  • Clopidogrel (Plavix)

How can you safely take aspirin and other antiplatelets to prevent heart attack and stroke?

  • Before you start to take daily aspirin or some other antiplatelet, tell your doctor all the medicines, vitamins, herbal products, and supplements you take.
  • Tell your doctors, dentist, and pharmacist that you take an antiplatelet.
  • Take your medicine as your doctor directs. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. If another doctor says to stop taking the medicine for any reason, talk to the doctor who prescribed it before you stop.
  • Take your medicine at the same time every day.
  • Do not chew or crush the coated or time-release forms of your medicine.
  • If you miss a dose, don't take an extra dose to make up for it.
  • Ask your doctor whether you can drink alcohol. And ask how much you can drink. When you take an antiplatelet, drinking too much raises your risk for liver damage and stomach bleeding.
  • If you are pregnant, are breastfeeding, or plan to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about what medicines are safe.
  • Talk with your doctor before you take a pain medicine. Many pain medicines have aspirin. Too much aspirin can be harmful.
  • Wear medical alert jewelry. This lets others know that you take an antiplatelet. You can buy it at most drugstores.
  • Try to avoid injuries that might make you bleed. For example, be careful when you exercise and when you play sports. Make your home safe to reduce your risk of falling.

How do antiplatelets work?

Antiplatelets prevent blood clots from forming in your blood vessels and heart. This can prevent a heart attack or stroke.

Antiplatelets slow the blood's clotting action by reducing the clumping of platelets. Platelets are cells that stick together, or clump, and help to form blood clots. These medicines keep platelets from clumping together. This helps to prevent blood clots from forming or getting bigger.

What are some cautions about antiplatelets?

Cautions for antiplatelets include the following:

  • Antiplatelets increase the risk of bleeding and bruising. This could be an emergency.
  • Stopping the medicine can increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke. It's important to talk to your doctor before you make any changes in how you take this medicine.

Why are antiplatelets used?

Antiplatelets help lower the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Antiplatelets may be used by people who:

  • Are at high risk for a heart attack or stroke.
  • Have coronary artery disease.
  • Have peripheral arterial disease.
  • Have had or are having a heart attack.
  • Have had a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).

Taking aspirin and other antiplatelets safely: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have a sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have any abnormal bleeding, such as:
    • A nosebleed that you can't easily stop.
    • Bloody or black stools, or rectal bleeding.
    • Bloody or pink urine.
  • You feel dizzy or lightheaded or feel like you may faint.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

What are the side effects of antiplatelet medicines after a stroke?

These medicines make your blood take longer than normal to clot. This can cause bleeding, and you may bruise easily. In rare cases, they can cause you to bleed inside your body without an injury. If you have an injury, you might have bleeding that is hard to control.

These medicines may have other side effects. Depending on which one you take, you may:

  • Have diarrhea.
  • Feel sick to your stomach.
  • Have a headache.
  • Have some mild belly pain.

You may have other side effects or reactions not listed here. Check the information that comes with your medicine.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.