Plavix is the trade name of the drug clopidogrel and is basically an anti-blood clotting agent. One of the ways blood clots form is by lots of little cells called platelets sticking together. Plavix acts on platelets to stop them sticking together so easily, therefore helping to prevent the formation of clots. Common reasons to have been started on Plavix include recent heart attack, placement of a stent in the heart, certain types of stroke, and peripheral artery disease. A main aim of the medicine being started is to prevent these bad events from happening again. The role of Plavix in people who have not had an event is less clear. Although most people wont experience Plavix side effects, it is important to be aware of them as in some cases, Plavix side effects may require them to discontinue the medication.
Plavix Side Effects – Bleeding
Of course, the major concern with a medication that helps thin the blood is bleeding. When we look at the large trials that studied Plavix and Plavix side effects, the following was seen. In one trial up to 2 in every 100 patients (2%) taking Plavix had a bleed in their GI tract with half of those patients (1%) requiring hospitalization for that. The risk of this goes up when aspirin is taken at the same time, which is often the case. In those taking aspirin and Plavix together the risk of GI bleeding went up to 3 in every 100 (3%) patients taking the drugs. The risk of a bleed in to the brain is similar in those taking aspirin and Plavix, and is around 1 patient in every 200 taking the drug being the highest rates reported with other trials suggesting the rate is nearer to 1 patient in 500 taking the drug. Bleeding spots / Bruising in the skin was noted in up to 5% of patients and nose bleeds noted in up to 3% of patients. This is of course likely higher in patients taking aspirin and Plavix together and also in patients taking anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDS. One other thing to note is that in trials patients are carefully selected and monitored, it is possible that Plavix side effects such as rates of bleeding in a real world setting are even higher.
The bottom line is that be aware that if prescribed Plavix that you may have a higher risk of bleeding which although relatively still small should be treated with respect given the sheer number of people taking Plavix and therefore likely to have Plavix side effects. Factors such as a bleeding history and other risk factors for bleeding should be discussed thoroughly with the prescribing physician and be taken in to account before committing to any procedure that requires Plavix to be taken after it. Measures should be taken to minimize the risk. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough.
Plavix Side Effects – Other Than Bleeding
Other side effects associated with Plavix may include diarrhea, indigestion and stomach pains. There is a long list of Plavix side effects that occur in less than 1 in 100 people taking the medication and an even longer list that occur in less than 1 in 1000 people taking the complication. These include allergic reactions, shortness of breath, and weakness. Clicking on the following link will take you to the package insert prescribing information for Plavix that contains this long list of uncommon and rare side effects.
Plavix Side Effects – What To Do If You Think You Have A Side Effect
Given the fact Plavix is such a highly prescribed medication, there will always be people that have, or are concerned they have Plavix side effects. Of course in some cases, the people will tolerate these effects more than others. In every case of concern this should be discussed with the prescribing doctor. If the side effect is troublesome, the only way to know for sure if Plavix is causing the symptoms is to have a trial of stopping the medication, however in some cases, for example after stent placement this is not possible, although there are often alternatives. Fortunately Plavix side effects are not common. Often Plavix is prescribed on an emergency basis, so the patient should always discuss with their doctor before discontinuing the medication as doing so without taking due consideration can be life threatening.
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