Clopidogrel, sold under the brand name Plavix, is an oral tablet that is typically used to prevent or treat recent new heart attack, stroke, and blood circulation disease (peripheral arterial disease). In this article, we answer some of the most common questions about clopidogrel, including what it is used for, its side effects, and its dosage.
- What is clopidogrel used for and how does it work?
- What other medicines can interact with clopidogrel?
- What are the side effects of clopidogrel?
- What is the right clopidogrel dosage for me?
- When is the best time to take clopidogrel?
- How long does clopidogrel take to work?
- Can you drink alcohol while taking clopidogrel?
1. What is clopidogrel used for and how does it work?
Clopidogrel is an antiplatelet medication that stops cells in the blood (platelets) from sticking together and forming a clot. In other words, clopidogrel acts as a blood thinner to make your blood flow through your veins more easily and prevent blood clots. Blood clots may cause heart attack, unstable angina, stroke, among other complications. That’s why clopidogrel is usually prescribed for people who have a higher risk of having those conditions, or for people who have had them before.
This drug may be used as part of combination therapy. One of the most common clopidogrel drug combinations is with aspirin. This pairing is usually prescribed for patients that have undergone a coronary stent procedure. Your physician will decide if you are a candidate for both aspirin and clopidogrel. Ensure you mention aspirin consumption with your doctor.
2. What other medicines can interact with clopidogrel?
Some other medicines may interact with clopidogrel besides aspirin. Those include:
- Other blood-thinning medicines, such as warfarin, rivaroxaban, and apixaban
- Blood-thinning herbal remedies and supplements, such as ginkgo
- Everyday painkillers, such as ibuprofen
- Acid reflux medicines called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as omeprazole and esomeprazole
- Antidepressants under the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) class such as citalopram and fluoxetine
This is not a comprehensive of drugs than clopidogrel can interact with. We recommend you consult with your doctor before you start taking other medicines with clopidogrel to avoid any unwanted effects.
3. What are the side effects of clopidogrel?
As a blood-thinning drug, clopidogrel may cause patients to bleed more easily than normal, which can lead to side effects such as nosebleeds and bruising easily. The medicine may also lead to longer bleeding time. Thus, be extra careful when engaging activities that might cause a cut or an injury. Remember to ask your doctor if you should stop taking the medicine before having dental treatment or surgery.
Other mild side effects are diarrhea, stomach pain, and indigestion or heartburn.
In some cases, serious side effects may occur. These can include unexplained bleeding (for example, blood in your urine or stools, and coughing or vomiting blood clots) and unexplained blood clots that appear in the patient’s body (also known as thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura), for example, purplish spots on skin or mouth.
If you experience any of these serious side effects, you should speak with your doctor or seek immediate medical attention if it is an emergency.
This is not a comprehensive list of the possible side effects of clopidogrel. You should speak to your doctor and read the information label to learn more about the side effects of clopidogrel.
4. What is the right clopidogrel dosage for me?
The dosage of clopidogrel differs from person to person depending on the patient’s condition. Consult with your doctor for the right dosage. The following information is the most used and recommended dosage for adults aged 18 years and older. Clopidogrel shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years old.
There are two strengths of the medicine available: clopidogrel 75mg and clopidogrel 300mg. If you have an acute coronary syndrome, the typical starting dosage is 300mg, taken one time per day. The treatment usually starts with the loading dose (the higher-strength tablet) before it is reduced to 75mg, taken one time per day as a maintenance dosage.
If you recently experienced a heart attack, stroke, or peripheral arterial disease, the typical dosage is 75mg, taken once per day.
If you forget to take clopidogrel, take it as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if you don’t remember until the following day. You should not double dose to make up for a forgotten dose.
5. When is the best time to take clopidogrel?
There is no best time to take clopidogrel. It can be taken at whatever time of day. However, it is recommended to pick a time that you find easiest to remember so that you can take your doses at the same time every day.
6. How long does clopidogrel take to work?
Clopidogrel works within 2 hours of taking it. Although you may not feel any difference after you start taking clopidogrel, it doesn’t mean the drug isn’t working.
It is recommended to not discontinue clopidogrel without consulting with your doctor even if you feel well. You may need to continue taking it for as long as your doctor prescribed you to. Clopidogrel is generally a safe medicine for long-term consumption.
Premature stopping of medication may increase risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks or strokes. It takes about 5 days for bleeding time to return to baseline values after treatment is discontinued.
7. Can you drink alcohol while taking clopidogrel?
Alcohol is not known to interact with clopidogrel, and it is considered safe to drink while you are taking the medication; however, it is recommended that you limit your consumption. Drinking too much alcohol while taking clopidogrel could irritate your stomach and higher the risk of getting a stomach ulcer. Contact your doctor for more information.
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