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Should I continue to take my medications prior to surgery?

It is important to tell the doctors providing your care what medications you are taking prior to surgery so that they can be involved in making the decision about stopping or continuing these medications.

Some examples of common medications are:
  • Aspirin and Plavix are drugs that are used to prevent blood from clotting. They are used to treat patients with certain disorders of the heart and blood vessels. Because of the way aspirin and Plavix work, they can cause increased bleeding when you get a cut or undergo surgery. If you are taking either of these drugs, you should talk to your primary care physician about stopping them before surgery. The decision to stop aspirin or Plavix is based on the reason why you need to be on the drugs (your medical condition) and on the risk of bleeding from the surgery.
  • Diuretics (“water pills”) are commonly prescribed for treating high blood pressure. This class of drugs can cause changes to electrolyte levels, such as potassium. If you take diuretics, your anesthesiologist may perform certain laboratory testing before surgery. 
  • Diabetic patients are commonly treated with insulin or oral agents. Your anesthesiologist may decrease your usual morning insulin dose or discontinue your oral agents before surgery. Always speak with an anesthesiologist or your regular doctor to discuss your particular medications, before any surgical procedure.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.