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Anti-Platelet Drugs

E.g. Aspirin and clopidogrel.


What do Anti-Platelet drugs do?

How do I take them?

Side effects

What do Anti-Platelet drugs do?

Anti-platelet drugs lower your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.  They reduce blood clotting by making some cells in the blood less "sticky".  There are two main anti-platelet medicines.  The most common is aspirin.  The other is clopidogrel which is used with aspirin for a short time after angiography or angioplasty, especially if you have had a stent inserted. It is also used with aspirin if you have been in hospital with chest pain or it can be used instead of aspirin if you've tried aspirin and you are truly allergic to it.

You should be taking aspirin unless you are allergic to it.  If you are not, ask your doctor whether you should be taking it.

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How do I take them?

  • Aspirin tablets that are used to prevent clots come in two forms: soluble or coated.  The most common are the soluble tablets which can be swallowed whole, chewed or dissolved in a little water. The coated tablets must be swallowed whole with a glass of water without chewing or crushing.  Both types are taken once a day and should be taken after food to avoid upsetting your stomach. 

    Aspirin is normally taken for life.
  • Aspirin (including brands such as Askit powders, Anadin, Alka-Seltzer etc) should not be used as a painkiller, because if you take too much high dose aspirin the anti-clotting effect of low dose aspirin is lost.   If you are taking a pain killer and don't know if it contains aspirin, ask your pharmacist or doctor.

  • Clopidogrel is taken once a day after food. If you are taking aspirin and clopidogrel, check with your doctor about how long you should be taking both.

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Side effects

Side effects are rare, but a few people may get stomach upsets.  If you think the aspirin is upsetting your stomach tell your doctor. Don't stop taking the aspirin. 

Bleeding from the stomach and allergic reactions are very rare.  Although aspirin can be bought in any pharmacy, and is generally safe, you should only take it after discussion with your doctor. 

If you think you have any side effects from your medicine be sure to mention it to your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist. 

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