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Safe Use of Antiplatelet Medication
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
What do I need to know about antiplatelets?
Antiplatelets are medicines that help prevent or treat conditions caused by blood clots. These conditions include stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), heart attack, heart vessel disease, or peripheral artery disease. Platelets help your blood to clot. Antiplatelets keep your platelets from sticking together in the areas of your blood vessels that have plaque. You may need to take more than one antiplatelet medicine at the same time.
How do I safely take antiplatelets?
- Always take your medicine exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Take your medicine at the same time every day. This will help you remember to take your medicine and keep a steady level of medicine in your body.
- Take 1 dose of medicine at a time. If you forget to take a dose, do not take 2 doses. Too much antiplatelet medicine in your body may increase your risk of bleeding and change medicine levels in your blood.
- Do not stop taking your medicine. Follow your healthcare provider's directions.
- Do not take NSAIDs. Many over-the-counter medicines contain NSAIDs or aspirin. Medicines, such as ibuprofen, can increase your risk of bleeding.
- Do not start or stop taking any other medicines or supplements. Ask your healthcare provider before changing any medicine or supplement. Certain medicines and supplements can cause bleeding or cause your antiplatelets to not work properly.
What are the risks of taking antiplatelets?
You may have bleeding in your brain or gastrointestinal tract. Your risk for infection may increase. If you skip doses or do not take your medicine, you increase your risk for heart attack, stroke, or TIA.
What safety measures do I need to follow?
Tell all of your healthcare providers that you are taking antiplatelets. Keep a current list of medicines and their dosages with you at all times.
- Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
- Use a soft washcloth and a soft toothbrush. If you shave, use an electric razor. Avoid activities that can cause bruising or bleeding.
- You may need regular blood tests so your healthcare provider can decide how much medicine you need. The dose may need to be changed because of your test results. Write down changes to your dose of medicine.
- Avoid drinking alcohol while taking antiplatelets. Alcohol can increase your risk of bleeding.
When should I seek immediate care?
- You have a nose bleed that lasts longer than 10 minutes.
- You have bleeding that will not stop.
- You cough up or vomit blood.
- You have a sudden, severe headache or cannot move one side of your body.
- You are dizzy and cannot keep your balance.
- You are confused or have trouble speaking.
- You have difficulty breathing or chest pain.
When should I contact my healthcare provider?
- You forget to take your medicine or you take too much.
- You have nausea, and you are vomiting.
- You bleed when you brush your teeth or blow your nose.
- Your urine or bowel movements are dark in color or have blood in them.
- You have excessive bruising or your legs have reddish-purple spots that look like a rash.
- You have a sore throat, fever, and chills.
- You become pregnant.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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