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Clopidogrel

Generic Name: clopidogrel (kloe PID oh grel)
Brand Name: Plavix

Medically reviewed on July 20, 2018

What is clopidogrel?

Clopidogrel prevents platelets in your blood from sticking together to form an unwanted blood clot that could block an artery.

Clopidogrel is used to lower your risk of having a stroke, blood clot, or serious heart problem after you've had a heart attack, severe chest pain (angina), or circulation problems.

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

Important Information

You should not use clopidogrel if you have any active bleeding such as a stomach ulcer or bleeding in the brain.

Clopidogrel 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, if you have blood in your urine, black or bloody stools, or if you cough up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds.

Do not stop taking clopidogrel without first talking to your doctor, even if you have signs of bleeding. Stopping clopidogrel may increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use clopidogrel if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • any active bleeding; or

  • a stomach ulcer or bleeding in the brain (such as from a head injury).

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • an ulcer in your stomach or intestines; or

  • a bleeding disorder or blood clotting disorder.

Clopidogrel may not work as well if you have certain genetic factors that affect the breakdown of this medicine in your body. Your doctor may perform a blood test to make sure clopidogrel is right for you.

This medicine is not expected to harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.

You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.

How should I take clopidogrel?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use these medicines exactly as directed.

Clopidogrel can be taken with or without food.

Clopidogrel is sometimes taken together with aspirin. Take aspirin only if your doctor tells you to.

Clopidogrel keeps your blood from coagulating (clotting) and can make it easier for you to bleed, even from a minor injury. Contact your doctor or seek emergency medical attention if you have any bleeding that will not stop.

You may need to stop using clopidogrel for a short time before a surgery, medical procedure, or dental work. Any healthcare provider who treats you should know that you are taking clopidogrel.

Do not stop taking clopidogrel without first talking to your doctor, even if you have signs of bleeding. Stopping the medicine could increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. Overdose can cause excessive bleeding.

What should I avoid while taking clopidogrel?

Avoid alcohol. It can increase your risk of stomach bleeding.

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

If you also take aspirin: Ask a doctor or pharmacist before using medicines for pain, fever, swelling, or cold/flu symptoms. They may contain ingredients similar to aspirin (such as salicylates, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, or naproxen). Taking these products together can increase your risk of bleeding.

Clopidogrel 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.

Clopidogrel 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, if you have blood in your urine, black or bloody stools, or if you cough up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds.

Also call your doctor at once if you have:

  • pale skin, easy bruising, purple spots under your skin or in your mouth;

  • jaundice (yellowing of your skin or eyes);

  • fast heartbeats, shortness of breath;

  • headache, fever, weakness, feeling tired;

  • little or no urination;

  • a seizure; or

  • signs of a blood clot--sudden numbness or weakness, confusion, problems with vision or speech.

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.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

Clopidogrel dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Acute Coronary Syndrome:

Unstable Angina (UA)/Non-ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (NSTEMI):
-Loading dose: 300 mg orally once
-Maintenance dose: 75 mg orally once a day
-Duration of therapy: Optimal duration unknown.

ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI):
-Loading dose: 300 mg orally once (OPTIONAL)
-Maintenance dose: 75 mg orally once a day, with or without thrombolytics
-Duration of therapy: Optimal duration unknown.

Comments:
-Administer this drug in combination with aspirin 75 mg to 325 mg orally once a day.
-The benefit of this drug for patients who undergo primary percutaneous coronary intervention is unknown.

Uses: Prevention of atherothrombotic events in patients with non-ST-segment elevation acute coronary syndrome (UA, NSTEMI, those who are to be managed medically, those who are to be managed with coronary revascularization) and STEMI.

Usual Adult Dose for Ischemic Stroke:

75 mg orally once a day

Uses: Prevention of atherothrombotic events in patients with a history of recent myocardial infarction, recent stroke, or established peripheral arterial disease.

Usual Adult Dose for Myocardial Infarction:

75 mg orally once a day

Uses: Prevention of atherothrombotic events in patients with a history of recent myocardial infarction, recent stroke, or established peripheral arterial disease.

Usual Adult Dose for Peripheral Arterial Disease:

75 mg orally once a day

Uses: Prevention of atherothrombotic events in patients with a history of recent myocardial infarction, recent stroke, or established peripheral arterial disease.

What other drugs will affect clopidogrel?

Certain other medicines may increase your risk of bleeding, including aspirin. Avoid taking aspirin unless your doctor tells you to.

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect clopidogrel, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Further information

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.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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