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Cathflo Activase

Generic Name: alteplase (AL te plase)
Brand Name: Activase, Cathflo Activase

What is Cathflo Activase (alteplase)?

Alteplase is a thrombolytic (THROM-bo-LIT-ik) drug, sometimes called a "clot-busting" drug. It helps your body produce a substance that dissolves unwanted blood clots.

Alteplase is used to treat a stroke caused by a blood clot or other obstruction in a blood vessel. Alteplase is also used to prevent death from a heart attack (acute myocardial infarction).

Alteplase is also used to treat a blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism).

Alteplase is also used to dissolve blood clots that have formed in or around a catheter placed inside a blood vessel. This improve the flow of medicines injected in through the catheter, or blood drawn out through the catheter.

Alteplase may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about Cathflo Activase (alteplase)?

If possible before you receive alteplase, tell your doctor if you have a brain tumor or aneurysm, high blood pressure, stomach bleeding, hemophilia or other bleeding disorder, or if you have recently had a head injury, brain or spinal surgery, or other major surgery or serious injury.

In an emergency situation it may not be possible to tell your caregivers about your health conditions. Make sure any doctor caring for you afterward knows you have received this medicine.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before I receive Cathflo Activase (alteplase)?

You should not be treated with alteplase if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • bleeding inside your brain;

  • active bleeding inside your body;

  • a recent history of medical trauma or injury;

  • stomach bleeding;

  • a bleeding or blood clotting disorder such as hemophilia;

  • severe or uncontrolled high blood pressure;

  • a brain tumor or aneurysm (dilated blood vessel);

  • recent major surgery;

  • a recent history of head injury or surgery on your brain or spinal cord within the past 3 months; or

  • a recent history of stroke (unless you are being treated for stroke).

If possible before you receive alteplase, tell your doctor if you have:

  • a past history of strokes;

  • a recent history of bleeding in your brain, stomach, intestines, or urinary tract;

  • high blood pressure;

  • heart problems;

  • an infection of the lining of your heart (also called bacterial endocarditis);

  • liver or kidney disease;

  • eye problems caused by diabetes;

  • severe bruising or infection around a vein where an IV was placed;

  • if you are pregnant or have recently had a baby;

  • if you have recently had an organ biopsy; or

  • if you have recently had a serious injury or major surgery.

In an emergency situation it may not be possible to tell your caregivers if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Make sure any doctor caring for your pregnancy or your baby knows you have received this medicine.

How is Cathflo Activase (alteplase)given?

Alteplase is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Alteplase is usually given within 3 hours after the first signs of stroke or heart attack symptoms. Your breathing, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and other vital signs will be watched closely.

You will also be watched closely for several hours after receiving alteplase, to make sure you do not have an allergic reaction to the medication.

When used to clear blood clots from a catheter, alteplase is given in 1 or 2 doses. After the first dose, a small amount of blood is withdrawn through the catheter to make sure it is cleared of blood clots. If blood cannot be easily withdrawn 2 hours after the first dose of alteplase, a second dose may be given.

After treatment with alteplase, your doctor may prescribe a blood thinner or other medication to help prevent future blood clots. Carefully follow all dosing instructions. These medications can make it easier for you to bleed, even from a minor injury.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Because you will receive alteplase in a clinical setting, you are not likely to miss a dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid after receiving Cathflo Activase (alteplase)?

Ask your doctor before taking aspirin or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) shortly after you have received alteplase. These medications can increase your risk of bleeding.

Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury. Use extra care to prevent bleeding while shaving or brushing your teeth.

Cathflo Activase (alteplase) side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Alteplase increases your risk of bleeding, which can be severe or life-threatening. Call your doctor or seek emergency medical attention if you have bleeding that will not stop. Bleeding may occur from a surgical incision, or from the skin where a needle was inserted during a blood test or while receiving injectable medication. You may also have bleeding on the inside of your body, such as in your stomach or intestines, kidneys or bladder, brain, or within the muscles.

Call your doctor at once if you have signs of bleeding inside your body, such as:

  • easy bruising or bleeding (nosebleeds, bleeding gums, bleeding from a wound, incision, catheter, or needle injection);

  • bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;

  • red or pink urine; or

  • sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), sudden severe headache, slurred speech, problems with vision or balance.

Also call your doctor at once if you have:

  • chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the jaw or shoulder, nausea, sweating, general ill feeling;

  • swelling, rapid weight gain, little or no urinating;

  • severe stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting;

  • darkening or purple discoloration of your fingers or toes;

  • very slow heartbeats, shortness of breath, feeling light-headed;

  • sudden severe back pain, muscle weakness, numbness or loss of feeling in your arms or legs;

  • dangerously high blood pressure--severe headache, blurred vision, pounding in your neck or ears, nosebleed, anxiety, confusion, severe chest pain, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats; or

  • pancreatitis--severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect Cathflo Activase (alteplase)?

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:

  • any medication used to prevent blood clots;

  • a blood thinner (heparin, warfarin, Coumadin, Jantoven); or

  • NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)--aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), celecoxib, diclofenac, indomethacin, meloxicam, and others.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with alteplase, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about alteplase.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 1.02.

Date modified: November 15, 2017
Last reviewed: March 03, 2017

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