What is Aspirin?

Aspirin belongs to the NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) class of medication. Aspirin is used in various conditions such as relieving pain, swelling, osteoarthritis (a disease where the bones become brittle and soft and can break easily), rheumatoid arthritis (it is a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects the joints of the body), pericarditis (inflammation around the heart), reducing the risk of cardiovascular events in people who are on high risk. Low-dose Aspirin can also reduce the prevention of blood clot formation. 

What is Clopidogrel?

Clopidogrel is also a prescription medication that belongs to the antiplatelet class of drugs. It works by preventing clots in the body (clots are formed from the collection of platelets), which causes a heart attack or stroke. 

Both Clopidogrel and Aspirin are used for heart conditions. 

Clopidogrel and Aspirin can be used alone or in combination with other medications to prevent serious or life-threatening problems related to heart and blood vessels who have had a heart attack, severe chest pain, or stroke. They are also used in patients who recently underwent angioplasty (a type of heart surgery), coronary artery bypass grafting (a type of heart surgery), or people with peripheral arterial disease (a blood circulatory disorder that causes the reduced blood supply to legs and arms).

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Heart Attack: causes, risk factors, symptoms & signs of Clopidogrel and Aspirin

Heart attack is a condition that occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked.

Causes: The blockage is often caused by the formation of plaque (deposition of cholesterol, fat, and other substances) in arteries. The process of plaque formation in the arteries is called atherosclerosis. The other causes of a heart attack include: 

  • Damage to blood vessels 
  • Spams to blood vessels 
  • Hypoxia (lack of oxygen in the blood)
  • Drug misuse 

Risk factors: The following are some of the risk factors that may make you vulnerable to a heart attack:

  • Age 
  • Smoking 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Tobacco
  • High cholesterol levels 
  • High triglyceride 
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Stress
  • Autoimmune disorders 
  • Drug use
  • Family history of heart attack
  • Metabolic syndrome 

Sign & Symptoms: The sign & symptoms of a heart attack include: 

  • Shortness of breath 
  • Chest pain or discomfort 
  • Fatigue 
  • Pain in arm, shoulder, or neck 
  • Upper body pain 
  • Trouble in breathing 
  • Dizziness 
  • Sweating 
  • Upper body pain 
  • Nausea 

Treatment & how does medication help?

The goal of the treatment is to restore blood supply to the heart as soon as possible to prevent heart damage. Depending on the cause that caused a heart attack, your treatment may vary. The treatment options include the following: 

  • Medications: Your physician may prescribe you medications to treat heart attack that includes: 
  • Nitroglycerin 
  • Aspirin 
  • Antiplatelets 
  • Anticoagulants
  • Blood pressure medication 
  • Beta-blockers 
  • Pain relievers 
  • Drugs that break up the clots 
  • Lifestyle changes can improve heart health and reduce the risk of heart attack 
  • Your doctor may also recommend surgery or a procedure that can relieve pain or help to prevent another heart attack from occurring. The common procedures include: 
  • Angioplasty (a procedure that opens the blocked artery using a balloon or by removing the plaque)
  • Stent (it is a wire mesh tube that surgeons insert into the artery to keep it open)
  • Heart transplant 
  • Pacemaker (it is a device that is implanted under the skin that helps the heart to maintain normal rhythm)
  • Heart valve surgery (it is a surgery where the surgeon replaces or repairs the damaged artery)
  • Heart bypass surgery (It is a surgery where the surgeon redirects the route of the blood around the blockage) 
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Aspirin and preventing heart attack

Aspirin not only helps you to lower fever and reduce inflammation but also can help to prevent blood clots. Plaque formation reduces the blood flow to the heart, and when this plaque ruptures, your body tries to reduce the damage by forming a clot. This further causes blockage in the blood vessels and may cause stopping of the blood flow to the heart. Aspirin reduces the ability of the blood to form these clots, thus can help to prevent heart attack.

Clopidogrel and heart attack prevention

Clopidogrel mainly works by blocking the platelets from sticking together and inhibiting them from forming harmful clots, which may cause a heart attack. 

Comparing the two- similarities vs. differences, common side effects & precautions

Similarities of Aspirin and Clopidogrel 

Aspirin and Clopidogrel are used alone or in combination (taken together) to prevent clot formation in the body, thus can help to prevent a heart attack. Both medications help to keep blood flowing smoothly in your body. 

Both Aspirin and Clopidogrel are taken orally.

Aspirin and Clopidogrel are to be taken orally and once daily. While on treatment with either or both the medication, you must carefully follow the instructions on your prescription label and ask your physician or pharmacist to explain in case of any queries.

You may bleed more easily if taking Aspirin and Clopidogrel

While taking Aspirin and Clopidogrel, you may bleed more easily and for a more extended period than normal. You must take appropriate precautions while on treatment with both or either of the medication. 

In case if you are on treatment with either or both medications and are planning to get pregnant or are pregnant or breastfeeding, please consult your doctor immediately. 

While on treatment with either or both medications, inform your doctor if you have surgery, including dental surgery. You may be advised to discontinue your treatment with the medication to avoid excessive bleeding. 

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Both Aspirin and Clopidogrel can cause stomach, kidney or liver disease

While taking Aspirin or Clopidogrel or both, if you often experience stomach upset, heartburn, stomach pain, or stomach upset, and if you have a history of ulcers, bleeding disorders, kidney, or liver disease, you should inform your physician before the treatment begins. 

Abdominal pain, liver damage, cramps, burning sensations are similar side effects of both drugs. 

Differences between Aspirin and Clopidogrel

Class of drugs: Though both Aspirin and Clopidogrel are used to prevent blood clots, Clopidogrel belongs to the anticoagulant class of medication, and Aspirin belongs to NSAIDs. Aspirin is available as both prescription (extended released tablet) and non-prescription medication (delayed released tablet). On the other hand, Clopidogrel is available as a prescription medication. 

Benefits: Aspirin is used for reducing fever, inflammation (osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis), and pericarditis, soft tissue injuries, Reiter’s syndrome, Ankylosing spondylitis. On the other hand, Clopidogrel is used to prevent strokes, unstable angina, or peripheral arterial disease (reduced blood supply to a part of the body due to narrowing blood vessels). 

Side effects: Common side effects of Aspirin include: 

  • Nausea 
  • Stomach pain 
  • Heartburn 
  • Stomach pain 

Severe side effects of Aspirin include: 

  • Bloody vomit 
  • Ringing in ears 
  • Fast heartbeat 
  • Loss of hearing 
  • Hives 
  • Rash
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Wheezing

Common side effects of Clopidogrel include: 

  • Headache 
  • Vomiting 
  • Fatigue 
  • Stomach pain 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Nosebleed 
  • Dizziness 

Severe side effects of Clopidogrel include: 

  • Liver failure
  • Allergic reactions 
  • Severe bleeding 
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)

Recommended Reading

  1. How to buy Clopidrogel online in Canada (Opens in a new browser tab)
  2. Clopidogrel Heart Medication: Side Effects & Precautions (Opens in a new browser tab)
  3. Stroke: Signs, Recovery, and Prevention With Clopidogrel (Opens in a new browser tab)

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