Clopidogrel

Brand names of clopidogrel

  • Plavix

Clopidogrel belongs to the class of drugs known as P2Y12 inhibitors. Clopidogrel is a drug that thwarts the platelets from accumulating to form blood clots. This anti-platelet drug puts off formation of blood clots by permanently attaching to the P2Y12 receptor found on the platelets, thereby putting off adenosine diphosphate (ADP) from triggering the platelets. Ticlopidine (Ticlid) is another drug which is comparable to clopidogrel both in chemical composition as well as the manner in which it acts. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the sale and use of clopidogrel in 1997.

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Nevertheless, treatment with clopidogrel is better compared to ticlopidine, which results in severe decrease in the count of the white blood cells. Hence, unlike in the case of ticlopidine, people undergoing treatment with clopidogrel bisulfate do not require to undergo regular blood tests to find if their white blood cell count has decreased during the treatment. It is worth mentioning here that patients having a recent history of heart attacks and stroke as well as patients enduring peripheral vascular disease are faced with greater risks of heart attacks as well as strokes attributable to formation of blood clots. It is also worth mentioning here that peripheral vascular disease is identical to atherosclerotic arterial disease, wherein the arteries become hardened and narrow. Often, this condition develops in the legs and usually results in pain or claudication in the legs when the patient is walking.

Things you need to tell your physician before taking clopidogrel

Prior to starting treatment with clopidogrel, you need to tell a number of things about you and your medical condition to your physician and pharmacist. First and foremost, you need to inform them whether you have allergic reactions to clopidogrel, any of its ingredients or any other drug.

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You should also tell your physician and pharmacist regarding all the prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbal medications, dietary supplement and vitamins you are already taking or intend to take. Ensure that you inform them if you especially use any of the following: anticoagulants, for instance warfarin (Coumadin); aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), felbamate (Felbatol), and naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve); specific types of anti-fungal medications like ketoconazole (Nizoral), fluconazole (Diflucan), and voriconazole (Vfend); cimetidine (Tagamet); fluvastatin (Lescol); fluvoxamine (Luvox); fluoxetine (Prozac); etravirine (Intelence); proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), for instance, esomeprazole (Nexium) and omeprazole (Zegerid, Prilosec); phenytoin (Dilantin); tolbutamide; ticlopidine (Ticlid); tamoxifen (Nolvadex) and torsemide (Demadex).

Before taking clopidogrel, tell your physician if you have sustained any injury recently. Also tell your physician if you had or are suffering from any liver or kidney ailments or any health condition that is likely to result in hemorrhages, counting stomach disorders like ulcers and specific eye problems. Women who intend to take clopidogrel should tell their physician if they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant or breast-feeding. In case any woman becomes pregnant while undergoing treatment with clopidogrel, she should right away contact her physician for advice on what needs to be done next.

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It is possible that people taking clopidogrel would require changes in the dosage of their medications. In addition, your doctor will need to check you watchfully to determine if you have developed any side effects owing to the use of this prescription drug.

Contact your physician immediately if you suffer from bleeding ulcers, for instance lesions in the inside layer of the stomach or the small intestine, bleeding in the brain or are enduring any additional health condition that may result in hemorrhages. In such cases your physician may ask you to discontinue taking clopidogrel.

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In the event of undergoing any surgery, counting dental surgery, you should tell your surgeon or dentist that you are taking the prescription drug clopidogrel. People taking clopidogrel ought to be aware of the fact that they are likely to bleed more easily or for a prolonged period compared to others who do not take this medication. Therefore, it is important that you are cautious not to hurt yourself or cut any part of your body while undergoing treatment with clopidogrel.

Usage

Clopidogrel belongs to the class of drugs known as P2Y12 inhibitors and is mainly used to put off heart attacks as well as strokes in individuals having any heart ailments, for instance a recent history of heart attack or stroke; or any disease related to blood circulation, such as peripheral vascular disease. In addition, clopidogrel is also given to patients along with aspirin for treating new or deteriorating chest pain, such as a recent heart attack or unstable angina, and also to ensure that the blood vessels are open and to put off formation of blood clots following specific medical procedures, for instance coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), cardiac stent and balloon angioplasty.

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Clopidogrel acts by interfering with specific blood cells known as platelets and thwarting them from clustering to form blood clots that may prove to be detrimental for the health of the heart. The anti-platelet consequences of clopidogrel facilitate in maintaining the undisturbed blood circulation throughout your body.

How to use clopidogrel

Before using clopidogrel and every time you obtain a refill of this prescription drug, it is essential that you carefully read the Medication Guide made available by your pharmacist. In case you have any question or are unable to understand any point regarding the use of this medication, it is advisable that you talk to your physician or pharmacist.

The dosage as well as the period of treatment with clopidogrel depends on the medical condition of the patient as well as his/ her response to the treatment. This medication should be taken orally with or without food generally once daily. Alternately, you may take this medication according to the recommendation of your physician. Take clopidogrel on a regular basis in order to obtain the utmost benefit of using it. In order to remember taking clopidogrel, take this medication around the same time every day.

In case you are taking clopidogrel to put off formation of blood clots following any medical procedure, such as a stent implant or balloon angioplasty, you need to take this medication in combination with aspirin for several months or even several years after the procedure conditional on the type of procedure and according to the instructions of your physician. It is essential to talk to your physician before you stop taking the drug for any reason. Even if you start feeling better after taking clopidogrel, you should continue taking the medication for the full course of the treatment.

If you find that taking clopidogrel is not providing you with the desired results or the medication is not working as it should be, contact your physician or healthcare provider immediately. Call your doctor at once if you experience symptoms like a new stroke or heart attack (for instance, shortness of breath, pain in the chest, jaw, left arm), abnormal and profuse sweating, slurred speech, debility on one side of the body, confusion and/ or abrupt vision changes.

How clopidogrel works

Clopidogrel works by preventing the platelets from clumping together to form blood clots, thereby putting off heart attacks and strokes. It may be noted that generally heart attacks and strokes take place when any blood clot constricts a part of any artery and obstructs the blood circulation, thereby interrupting the supply of oxygen as well as nutrients to the tissues that lie away from the area of the blood clot.

Side effects

Serious:
Common:
Less common:

Possible interactions

Herbal medicines or minerals:
Several herbal medications are likely to interact with aspirin, such as garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, ginger and feverfew. Hence, it is not advisable to use clopidogrel in combination with these herbal medications. In addition, consult your physician prior to including any other herbal medication in your existing list of medications.
Alcohol:
People undergoing treatment with clopidogrel should avoid consuming alcoholic beverages because using them simultaneously augments the chances of harm to your stomach and may possibly also lengthen the bleeding time.

Discontinuation

Clopidogrel should never be discontinued all of a sudden or without consulting your physician. In case you need to stop taking this medication for some reason, talk to your physician first.

Storage instructions

You should always store clopidogrel at room temperature in a place where there is no light or dampness. Never keep this medication in your bathroom, which is damp most of the time. In addition, it is important to store all medicines in a place that is beyond the reach of children and pets. If you no longer require a medicine or if it has become outdated, discard it in a safe and proper manner. Unless instructed otherwise, never discard any unwanted medication by flushing it down the toilet or pouring it into a drain. It is advisable that you talk to your pharmacist or any neighbourhood waste disposal company regarding the safe disposal of the outdated drugs.

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