What is Plavix (Clopidogrel Bisulfate)?
Plavix (clopidogrel disulfate) is a medication that prevents platelets from clumping together and forming blood clots. This prescription drug helps blood flow more easily, and reduces the chances of a future stroke or heart attack.
Plavix is an oral, thienopyridine class antiplatelet agent. Antiplatelet agents decrease the accumulation of platelets, thus inhibiting thrombus (clot) formation. Antiplatelet agents are effective in the circulation of the arteries, where anticoagulants are not.
Cholesterol-lowering, antihypertensive, and antiplatelet drugs
Many patients are on cholesterol and blood pressure medications (antihypertensive drugs) to help reduce their risk of developing a heart attack or stroke.
Antihypertensive medications work in several different ways. While some reduce the volume of blood, others dilate the blood vessels, or alleviate the stress on a blood vessel.
Cholesterol-lowering medications usually help reduce plaque accumulation, as well as reducing the production of cholesterol.
Cholesterol lowering and antihypertensive drugs do help lower overall cardiovascular risk, but they do not stop the platelets from clumping together to form clots. Plaxix does that – it helps reduce the risk of a future stroke or heart attack by keeping the platelets apart; by stopping them from sticking to each other and forming clots.
Plavix is used to prevent blood clots in patients..:
- ..who recently had a heart attack
- ..who recently had a stroke
- ..with coronary artery disease (CAD) – when one or more arteries do not supply enough blood to the heart, usually caused because the arteries have hardened (atherosclerosis).
CAD causes many illnesses and deaths. It starts when plaques (hard cholesterol substances) collect within a coronary artery. As the plaques build up, they can lead to the formation of small blood clots which can block blood flow to the heart muscle.
The patient experiences angina pectoris (chest pain), he/she may suffer a myocardial infarction (heart attack), or sudden death. CAD patients are commonly treated with balloon angioplasty, bypass surgery, and stents.
- ..with peripheral vascular disease (PVD) – diseases of the blood vessels not connected to the heart. The peripheral blood vessels narrow, and blood flow is restricted. It tends to occur mostly in the legs, and sometimes the arms.
Initially, the patient may have achy and tired leg muscles, especially when walking. Symptoms may go away during rest.
As the disease gets worse, symptoms will appear even during light exertion; eventually they will be present all the time. When the disease is severe, the leg and foot may feel cold when touched; the patient will feel persistent numbness. Sometimes gangrene can develop.
- with cerebrovascular disease – disease of blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the brain, especially arteries. Patients are at a high risk of stroke.
A 2009 study carried out by researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, found that patients with atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythms) who could not take anticoagulants (warfarin), and took aspirin with Plavix, had a 28% lower risk of stroke. (Link to article)
Plavix (clopidogrel disulfate) is made and marketed by pharmaceutical companies Sanofi and Bristol-Myers Squibb
Plavix – Important Safety Information
- Some genetic factors may reduce the effects of Plavix, leaving the patient more susceptible to stroke and heart attack. Some doctors recommend a genetic test before deciding on treatment. Some patients cannot metabolize the drug proberly to convert it to its active form; the FDA added a boxed warning in 2010. (Link to article)
- Some medications may reduce the effects of Plavix, leaving the patient at a higher risk of heart attack or stroke. Examples include Nexium and Prilosec (proton pump inhibitors), fluvastatin (Lescol); torsemide (Demadex); phenytoin (Dilantin); tamoxifen (Nolvadex); tolbutamide (Orinase); some blood thinners, and other drugs.
Make sure your doctors know about all the medications you are taking beforehand.
- Never cease taking Plavix without checking with your doctor. Such a move may raise your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
- Plavix, taken alongside some medications, such as aspirin, may increase the risk of potentially life-threatening bleeding. Your doctors needs to know about all the medications you are taking.
- Tell your doctor straight away if you are on Plavix and experience confusion, weakness, or a fever. They could be signs of TTP (Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura).
- People with stomach ulcers should not use Plavix.
What are reported side effects linked to taking Plavix?
TTP (Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura) – a blood clotting problem. Clots form in blood vessels in any part of the body. TTP needs immediate medical attention, otherwise the patient could be at risk of death. The following signs and symptoms should be taken seriously and medical help should be sought immediately: pupura (purplish stops) in the skin or mucous membrane of the mouth, jaundice, extreme fatigue and/or weakness, very pale skin, fever, accelerated heartbeat, panting when stationary, vision changes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, small amounts of urine, urine is pink (has blood), stroke, seizure, speech changes, headache, and a feeling you are about to faint.