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Anti-platelets

E.g. Aspirin and Clopidogrel.

What do they do?

How do I take them?

Side Effects

What do they do?

Anti platelet drugs lower your chance of having another stroke or TIA (mini-stroke).  They stop the blood clotting by making some cells in the blood less "sticky".  There are two main types of anti platelet medicines.  The most common is aspirin.  Clopidogrel is used if you've tried aspirin and it really disagrees with you.  If you have had a stroke or TIA (mini-stroke) while taking aspirin, your doctor may suggest another blood thinning tablet called Dipyridamole (Persantin) as well as aspirin.

If you've had a cerebral haemorrhage generally you will not be prescribed aspirin. If you have another reason for taking aspirin (e.g. angina) you may need to continue taking it, however you should wait at least 6 weeks after the stroke before restarting.

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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 soluble tablets can be chewed or dissolved in a little water but the coated tablets must be swallowed whole with a glass of water without chewing or crushing.  Both types are taken once a day after food.  This helps avoid upsetting your stomach.  They are normally taken for life.

Aspirin can also be used in higher doses to treat pain and you should be careful to avoid other medicines containing aspirin, for example Askit Powders.  If you take too much aspirin you lose the good effect of stopping the blood clotting. 

Clopidogrel is taken once a day after food. You take Dipyridamole twice a day with food. 

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Side Effects

Side effects are very rare, but a few people may get stomach upsets.  If you think the aspirin or Clopidogrel is upsetting your stomach tell your doctor he will be able to help. Don't stop taking the tablets.
 
Clopidogrel can sometimes cause a rash. If you notice prolonged or unusual bleeding or bruising with aspirin or Clopidogrel  (e.g. bleeding from nose or mouth, your bowel motions are black, bruising on arms or legs) consult your GP.

Dipyridamole can give you headaches in the first week after you start to take them. If you suffer from angina and notice an increase in symptoms after starting Dipyridamole contact your GP.

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

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

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