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Is Brilinta a blood thinner or antiplatelet?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Nov 16, 2020.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com

Key Points

  • Brilinta (generic name: ticagrelor) is an oral antiplatelet prescription tablet that is usually taken twice a day, in the morning and the evening.
  • It is classified as a P2Y12 inhibitor that works by making your platelets less sticky to help prevent blood clots from forming.
  • Like blood thinners, it also has a risk of serious or possibly fatal bleeding. It is often prescribed together with aspirin for acute coronary syndrome (severe chest pain or a heart attack) or to help prevent a clot formation in a stent.

What did the FDA approve Brilinta for?

Brilinta is approved by the FDA to:

  • reduce the chance of a heart attack, stroke or death if you have acute coronary syndrome (ACS) or a history of heart attack. ACS can result in severe chest pain (angina) or a heart attack (myocardial infarction). This could happen because your heart is not getting enough oxygen. For at least the first 12 months following ACS, it is superior to clopidogrel (Plavix).
  • lower the chance of a blood clot forming in a stent after it is placed in your artery for ACS. Further blockage of your stent could lead to a heart attack or even death.
  • reduce the risk of a first heart attack or stroke in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) at high risk for such events.
  • reduce the risk of stroke in patients with acute ischemic stroke (NIH Stroke Scale score ≤5) or high-risk transient ischemic attack (TIA)

Your doctor will usually prescribe a daily dose of aspirin with Brilinta to reduce the chance of a blood clot forming. Using Brilinta and aspirin together is called “dual antiplatelet therapy”.

Blood clots are formed from red blood cells, platelets, fibrin, and white blood cells. Both anticoagulants (for example, drugs like warfarin) and antiplatelets keep these components from clumping together and forming a blood clot.

If you stop taking Brilinta too soon, it may increase your risk of a heart attack, stroke or death.

However, if you are having surgery, your doctor may instruct you to stop taking Brilinta 5 days before your procedure. This will help to lower the chance of bleeding. Follow your doctor’s directions on when to stop and start taking Brilinta again.

Table 1. Examples of Antiplatelet and Anticoagulant Drugs

Drug Class Drug Name
Anticoagulant Warfarin (Coumadin)
Antiplatelet Aspirin, cangrelor (Kengreal), clopidogrel (Plavix), dipyridamole (Persantine), prasugrel (Effient), ticagrelor (Brilinta), ticlodipine
Direct-acting Oral Anticoagulant (DOAC) Apixaban (Eliquis), dabigatran (Pradaxa), edoxaban (Savaysa), rivaroxaban (Xarelto)

Does Brilinta have a warning about bleeding?

Yes, Brilinta carries a Boxed Warning on its label, the most stringent warning from the FDA, about bleeding risks.

  • Brilinta, like other antiplatelet agents, can cause significant, sometimes fatal bleeding.
  • Do not use Brilinta in patients with active pathological bleeding or a history of intracranial (within the skull) hemorrhage.
  • Do not start Brilinta in patients undergoing urgent coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG).
  • If possible, manage bleeding without discontinuing Brilinta. Stopping Brilinta increases the risk of subsequent cardiovascular events.

Bottom Line

  • Brilinta (generic name: ticagrelor) is an oral antiplatelet prescription tablet that is usually taken twice a day, in the morning and the evening.
  • It is often prescribed together with aspirin for acute coronary syndrome (severe chest pain or a heart attack) or to help prevent a clot formation in a stent. It has other uses as well.
  • If you stop taking Brilinta too soon, it can increase your risk of a heart attack, stroke or death. However, Brilinta can also increase the risk of severe bleeding that might lead to death. Ask your doctor how long you’ll need to take these drugs and do not stop taking them without talking to your cardiologist first.

This is not all the information you need to know about Brilinta (generic name: ticagrelor) for safe and effective use. Review the full Brilinta product information here, and discuss this information with your doctor or other health care provider.

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