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What are antiplatelet drugs?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Antiplatelet drugs prevent blood cells called platelets from sticking together and forming a blood clot. These medications lower the chances of a heart attack by keeping blood from clotting in already narrowed coronary arteries. Antiplatelet drugs that can be taken daily include aspirin and clopidogrel (Plavix).

Low-dose aspirin is often recommended for people with coronary artery disease. A low dose is 75 mg to 162 mg a day (1 or 2 baby aspirin). Clopidogrel is sometimes prescribed for people who cannot take aspirin or for whom aspirin therapy is unsuccessful. A combination of clopidogrel and aspirin is sometimes prescribed for people at high risk for heart attack or stroke.

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Antiplatelet drugs inhibit platelet cells that enhance blood clotting. They include aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents that prevent blood cells from clotting. Antiplatelet therapies are prescribed to patients undergoing angioplasty or with uncontrollable angina, and may be prescribed to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

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