What is plavix?

What is plavix?

Plavix, or clopidogrel disulfate, is a prescription drug that prevents platelets from clumping together and forming blood clots. It helps blood to flow more easily, and reduces the chances of a future stroke or heart attack.

Plavix is an oral, antiplatelet drug of the thienopyridine class. By reducing the accumulation of platelets, antiplatelet agents help to prevent the formation of a clot, or thrombus. Antiplatelet agents enhance the circulation of the arteries.

Cholesterol-lowering, antihypertensive, and antiplatelet drugs

Plavix prevents blood clotting.

Many patients use cholesterol and blood pressure medications, known as antihypertensive drugs, to help reduce their risk of developing a heart attack or stroke.

Antihypertensive medications work in several different ways. Some reduce the volume of blood, and others dilate the blood vessels, or reduce the stress on a blood vessel.

Medications that aim to reduce cholesterol usually help to stop plaque from accumulating and reduce cholesterol production.

Cholesterol-lowering and antihypertensive drugs help to decrease overall cardiovascular risk, but they do not stop the platelets from clumping together to form clots.

This is why Plavix is useful. It keeps the platelets apart, and stops them from sticking together and forming clots. In this way, it helps to reduce the risk of a future stroke or heart attack.

Plavix is used to prevent blood clots in patients who have recently had a heart attack or stroke and in those with cerebrovascular disease. Cerebrovascular disease affects the blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the brain, and especially the arteries. Patients are at a high risk of a stroke.

Coronary heart disease

Plavix can help patients with coronary heart disease (CHD), also known as coronary artery disease (CAD). In CHD, one or more arteries do not supply enough blood to the heart. This usually happens because the arteries have hardened in a process known as atherosclerosis.

CHD is a major cause of illness and deaths around the world. It starts when plaques, a substance made of hard cholesterol, collect within a coronary artery. As the plaques build up, they can lead to the formation of small blood clots. These clots can block blood flow to the heart muscle.

Chest pain, also known as angina pectoris, is a common symptom. CHD can lead to a myocardial infarction, or heart attack, or sudden death. Patients with CHD may need balloon angioplasty, bypass surgery, and a stent.

Peripheral vascular disease

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) refers to diseases of the blood vessels that are not directly connected to the heart. The peripheral blood vessels narrow, and blood flow is restricted. It mostly occurs in the legs, and sometimes in the arms.

The patient may first notice tired and aching 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, and the patient will feel persistent numbness. Sometimes gangrene can develop.

Adverse effects of Plavix

Some patients have genetic factors that keep them from metabolizing Plavix properly to convert it to its active form. Some doctors may recommend a genetic test before prescribing the drug. In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added a boxed warning about this.

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, which are proton pump inhibitors
  • Fluvastatin, or Lescol
  • Torsemide, or Demadex
  • Phenytoin, or Dilantin
  • Tamoxifen, or Nolvadex
  • Tolbutamide, or Orinase)

Some blood thinners and other drugs may also have this effect.

It is important never to stop taking Plavix without checking with the doctor first, as there may be a risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

If Plavix is used with certain medications, such as aspirin, this can increase the risk of potentially life-threatening bleeding. People with a stomach ulcer should not use Plavix for this reason.

In some people, Plavix can lead to bleeding. Patients may find that they bruise more easily, that they have nosebleeds, and that it takes longer for bleeding to stop. If these symptoms occur, it is important to inform the physician.

Patients should always make sure their doctor knows which medications and supplements they are taking before prescribing a new one.

If a patient who is using Plavix experiences confusion, weakness, or a fever, this could be a sign of Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). In TTP, blood clots can form in any part of the body.

Other signs and symptoms of TTP include:

  • Purpura, or purplish spots on the skin or mucous membrane of the mouth
  • Jaundice
  • Extreme fatigue, weakness, or both
  • Very pale skin
  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • Panting when stationary
  • Vision changes
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain
  • Small amounts of urine, or urine is pink, with blood in it
  • Seizure
  • Speech changes
  • Headache
  • A feeling of faintness

This condition needs immediate medical attention, because it can lead to stroke, and it can be fatal.

The Patient Information Label (PIL) for Plavix notes that people with a kidney or liver disorder, or who have recently had surgery, should inform their doctor about this. The PIL contains the complete list of adverse effects.

In 2015, the FDA added a safety warning, noting that people have experienced disorders affecting the skin and under the skin.

Plavix (Clopidogrel): Know Your Drug (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Cardiology