What is Clopidogrel

Clopidogrel is 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. 

Clopidogrel 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. It can also be used in patients who recently underwent angioplasty (a type of heart surgery), coronary artery bypass grafting (a type of heart surgery), or people with the peripheral arterial disease (a blood circulatory disorder that causes the reduced blood supply to legs and arms).

How effective is Clopidogrel against heart problems?

Studies have shown that Clopidogrel prevents the risk of heart problems such as heart attack by 10%. When used along with aspirin, it reduces complications by 20%.

Clopidogrel & heart attack prevention 

Clopidogrel can prevent heart attacks and strokes in people with cardiac diseases. It is also used in patients with a recent history of stroke or peripheral vascular disease. Combined with aspirin, it can treat chest pain, worsening chest pain, new heart attack, or unstable angina. Clopidogrel is also used to keep blood vessels open and prevent blood clots after specific cardiac procedures. 

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

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Clopidogrel Prescription, use, & dosage

Clopidogrel is available in tablet form and is to be consumed orally. It is prescribed once daily with or without food. It would be best suited if you consume it around the same time not to forget. Always follow instructions on the prescription label and ask your healthcare worker if you do not understand it. Take the medication as per prescription. Do not stop taking medicine even if you feel well. Always consult your doctor before stopping the medication. Cardiac complications and blood circulatory disorders will be prevented if you take the medication. If you stop the medication, you might be at a higher risk of heart attack or stroke. 

The tablet is available in two strengths, 75 mg, and 300 mg. Your physician may start your treatment with a high dose of  Clopidogrel and reduce the dose to 75 mg/day orally for up to 12 months.

Clopidogrel Common side effects & how to deal with them

Clopidogrel may show some side effects; however, you will not experience all the side effects. It is also likely that some people may not experience any side effects. 

Clopidogrel may cause the following side effects while on treatment. Inform your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • Diarrhea 
  • Nosebleed 
  • Headache 
  • Vomiting 
  • Dizziness 
  • Excessive tiredness 
  • Stomach pain 
  • Nausea
  • Itchy skin 

Some of the side effects may have serious effects. If you experience any of the following, call your physician immediately: 

  • Fast heartbeat 
  • Confusion 
  • Fever 
  • Yellowing of the skin 
  • Seizure 
  • Pink or brown urine 
  • Bloody vomit 
  • Rash 
  • Hives 
  • Itching 
  • Changes in vision 
  • Purple patches 
  • Bleeding under the skin 
  • Weakness of an arm or a leg 
  • Blood in stools (red)
  • Swelling in tongue, face, throat, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
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This is not a comprehensive list of side effects. You may experience other side effects. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any unusual problems while taking the medication. 

If you are experiencing some of the common side effects, below mentioned are some tips that will help you to manage:

Dizziness caused by Clopidogrel

It is a common side effect. You may experience mainly while standing up suddenly. If you feel dizzy often, here are some tips that could help:

  • Get up slowly with feet on the ground for some time and stand up or lie down slowly 
  • You should not stand until you start feeling better

If you are feeling dizzy, you should not drive or operate heavy machines. 

Nausea caused by Clopidogrel

Nausea is another common side effect that people experience when on treatment with Clopidogrel. If you are nauseous, you can try the following:

  • Take the medication with food or snacks
  • Avoid eating spicy or fatty food items

If your nausea is persistent, you can also ask your doctor to prescribe medication to manage nausea.

Headaches caused by Clopidogrel

Follow the following steps to avoid headaches,

  • Take adequate rest
  • Drink sufficient water

Headaches due to Clopidogrel usually resolve within one week. If you experience headaches for a more extended period, it is better to consult your doctor.

Diarrhea and Vomiting caused by Clopidogrel

Drink enough water that will prevent dehydration

Inform your doctor if you have diarrhea or vomiting due to a stomach infection or other disorder. 

Preventing Common Side Effects from Clopidogrel

You should read the patient information leaflet carefully before taking medicine. Take the medication as advised by your health worker. Generally, it is best to follow the mentioned precautions:

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Take medicine as suggested by your doctor.

You should not stop taking medicine even if you feel well. Always consult your doctor. Your condition may worsen, and you will be at a higher risk of complications (stroke and heart attack).

If you forget to take medicine, you should take it as soon as you remember it the same day and carry on as usual from the next day.

If you completely forget the dose for the whole day, skip it and carry on, as usual, the next day. You should not take double the dose to compensate for the missed dose.

Other precautions to consider when taking Clopidogrel

Inform your health worker about other prescription, non-prescription medications, and nutritional supplements that you are taking. Also, inform about vitamins and herbal supplements you are taking or planning to take. 

Inform your physician if you have bleeding ulcers, bleeding in the brain, or any other condition that may cause severe bleeding. 

You should inform your physician if you have liver or kidney disease. 

Inform your doctor if you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. Inform your physician immediately.

Inform your doctor if you are taking the following medications or if you are planning to take any of the following medications: 

  • NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Esomeprazole 
  • Omeprazole 
  • Codeine 
  • Hydrocodone 
  • Meperidine
  • Morphine 
  • Oxycodone 
  • Repaglinide 
  • Fluvoxamine 
  • Other blood thinners 
  • Desvenlafaxine 
  • Duloxetine 
  • Sibutramine 
  • Venlafaxine 

This is not a complete list of medications. Inform your doctors about all the medications that you are taking. Your physician may ask you to stop taking Clopidogrel, alter your medications’ dose, or monitor for side effects.

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