This medication group is effective in one of three main cell branches found in blood, the platelets. We especially use these medications when dealing with an at-risk patient or someone who has already had a heart attack or stroke.
A) Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) [Aspirin™]
Known for its ability to reduce pain and fever, the ASA can also be taken to protect the heart. Small doses are used for cardiovascular protection, while the larger doses are given to reduce pain, swelling and fever. The ASA prevent the platelets to activate themselves and form a blood clot.
The ASA is usually taken once per day. It is recommended to take it with food.
The most frequent secondary effects are bleeding (more abundant or longer than usual), bruises and stomach irritation.
B) Clopidogrel [Plavix™], Ticagrelor [Brilinta™], Prasugrel [Effient™]
These three medications, from the receptor inhibitors P2Y12 family, are usually used in concert with the ASA.
However, they may sometimes be taken alone in certain circumstances. They also prevent the platelets to activate and work together and form blood clot. This is done via a different mechanism from the ASA method.
These three medications therefore are complementary to the ASA, allowing for a more complete protection of the cardiovascular system.
Clopidogrel and prasugrel are usually taken once per day while Ticagrelor must be taken twice a day. It is recommended that these three medications be taken with food.
The most frequent side effects are also more abundant and/or longer bleeding than usual and bruises.
For those who take Ticagrelor, there may be a sensation of transitory breathlessness.
Advise your doctor if you are victim of this side effect.