Side effects of antiplatelet medication


Antiplatelet drugs are a group of powerful medications, prescribed by experts like Hematologist in Lahore for preventing blood clots. Blood clots or thrombus in a vessel impede blood flow. However, a blood clot becomes even more dangerous when it travels from its site of formation to another area—this type of blood clot is called an embolus. Emboli can prove fatal if not diagnosed and treated, promptly. Most healthcare providers, therefore, keep their patients on antiplatelet medication, to prevent the thrombi and emboli from forming. Read on to know more about the conditions treated by antiplatelet medication and the side effects associated with them:

How do antiplatelets work?

Platelets are blood cells whose function is to form clots and prevent bleeding. Whenever there is a site of bleeding—inside the body or outside—these platelets rush to that area, become sticky and bind together. This sticking is the key to platelet functioning.

In certain conditions, when the platelets are lowered—known as thrombocytopenia, there is risk of bleeding in the patient. In other conditions, when there is excess platelet formation in the body—known as thrombophilia, there is a risk of clot and embolus formation that can occlude the blood supply to an organ, as seen in stroke and heart attack. Thrombocytopenia and thrombophilia, both need evaluation by an expert hematologist.

Antiplatelet drugs are prescribed in the setting of thrombophilia and other prothrombotic states, to prevent the platelets from sticking together and forming a thrombus. The ‘stickiness’ of platelets is attenuated by antiplatelet drugs.

What conditions are treated by antiplatelets?

Antiplatelet drugs are prescribed in a number of conditions, such as: heart attack or preventing the risk thereof. The first line treatment of acute coronary syndrome and unstable angina constitutes the use of antiplatelet medication. After percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or stenting, antiplatelet drugs are used to prevent the clots from forming around the stent.

Additionally, in transient ischemic attacks or mini-strokes, antiplatelet drugs are used prophylactically, to prevent a bigger event. Like myocardial infarction, antiplatelet drugs like aspirin are the first drugs used in ischemic stroke, along with other medications.

Antiplatelet drugs are also prescribed in vascular operation and peripheral arterial diseases that occlude the blood supply to the peripheries.

Certain high-risk conditions such as impending heart attacks warrant the use of low-dose aspirin. This prophylaxis is only prescribed for a limited period of time and needs evaluation by the healthcare provider soon thereafter.

What are the side effects of antiplatelet medication?

Antiplatelet drugs have a number of side effects. These include upset stomach, nausea, rash, diarrhea, vomiting, and itching. Aspirin and other COX-1 inhibitors can disrupt the gastric lining of and increase the risk of peptic ulcer disease. In the case of acid peptic disease, the healthcare provider uses other low-risk antiplatelet medication such as selective COX-2 inhibitors if they are safe for the patient.

As with most drugs, antiplatelet medication also needs periodic evaluation and dose revision. Be sure to seek urgent medical help if there is blood in the urine or stool, unusual bruising, hemoptysis or blood in the sputum, severe headache, heavy bleeding from wounds, nosebleeds, tightness in the chest, fever, swelling, severe stomach ache, unexpected vaginal bleeding. These may be signs of drug overdose, which needs prompt medical care.

What are the types of antiplatelets?

In oral formulation, over-the-counter medication like aspirin is also an antiplatelet drug. It works by preventing two platelet cells from sticking together and forming clots. Another commonly prescribed antiplatelet is clopidogrel, often used for heart patients. in addition, there are other drugs like prasugrel, dipyridamole and ticagrelor that are antiplatelet drugs. Most in-patients are prescribed integrin (or Eptifibatide) by Hematologists in Karachi

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