Platelets are small cells in your blood that your body uses to form clots and stop bleeding. If you have too many platelets or your platelets stick together too much, you are more likely to form clots. This clotting can take place on the inside of your arteries and lead to heart attack or stroke.
Antiplatelet drugs work to make your platelets less sticky and thereby help prevent blood clots from forming in your arteries.
- Aspirin is an antiplatelet drug that may be used.
- P2Y12 receptor blockers are another group of antiplatelet drugs. This group of drugs includes: clopidogrel, ticlopidine, ticagrelor, prasugrel, and cangrelor.
Who Should Take Antiplatelet Drugs
Antiplatelet drugs may be used to:
- Prevent heart attack or stroke for those with PAD.
- Clopidogrel (Plavix, generic) may be used in place of aspirin for patients who have narrowing of the coronary arteries or who have had a stent inserted.
- Sometimes two anti-platelet drugs (one of which is almost always aspirin) are prescribed for patients with unstable angina, acute coronary syndrome (unstable angina or early signs of heart attack), or those who have received a stent during PCI.
- For heart disease primary and secondary prevention, daily aspirin is generally the first choice for antiplatelet therapy. Clopidogrel is prescribed instead of aspirin for patients who are aspirin allergic or who cannot tolerate aspirin.
- Clopidogrel and aspirin is recommended for patients who are undergoing angioplasty with or without stenting.
- Prevent or treat heart attacks.
- Prevent stroke or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs are early warning signs of stroke. The are also called "mini-strokes.")
- Prevent clots from forming inside stents put inside your arteries to open them.
- Acute coronary syndrome.
- After bypass graft surgery that uses a man-made or prosthetic graft performed on arteries below the knee.
Your health care provider will choose which one of these drugs are best for your problem. At times, you may be asked to take low dose aspirin along with one of these drugs.