In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for clopidogrel, trade name PlavixTM.
What it’s for & How to take
Clopidogrel is a medication used to help keep the platelets in your blood from sticking together. When platelets stick together, they may form a clot in your blood vessel which may lead to a stroke or a heart attack.
Clopidogrel is used to treat a condition that happens when you experience a sudden decreased blood flow to your heart. This condition is called acute coronary syndrome. This feeling may be described as the sharp pain you would feel in your chest during a heart attack, or the minor pain you feel in your chest while resting or during light activity. If you feel this minor pain in your chest, seek immediate medical attention.
Clopidogrel is also used to decrease the risk of a stroke in patients who have previously had a blood clot related stroke or mini-stroke.
Clopidogrel is usually taken once daily, with or without food. Take your dose with a full glass of water. This medication works best when taken on a regular basis, even when you are feeling healthy. If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of your next dose, skip it and continue with your normal dose time. Do not take a double dose to make up the missed dose.
The duration of your treatment is based on your clinical condition and response to therapy. If you are taking clopidogrel after you have had a stent placed in your blood vessel, you may need to take this medication for a year or more. Ask your doctor if they want you to take an aspirin tablet along with your clopidogrel dose.
Watch for signs or symptoms of minor to severe bleeding. Minor bleeding includes nosebleed, bleeding from your gums when you brush your teeth or a minor cut that continues to bleed. If any of these persist, call your pharmacist or doctor to ask for direction. If you notice signs of more severe bleeding such as blood in your stool or urine, coughing up blood or vomiting blood, treat this as an emergency and get medical help right away.
Most Important Warnings
- If you are considered a poor metabolizer, this medication may not work very well. Tell your doctor if you have ever been told that you are a poor metabolizer.
Warnings & Cautions
- Use caution while performing activities with sharp objects that may lead to bleeding, such as shaving and nail trimming. Use an electric razor when shaving and be sure you use a soft toothbrush when brushing your teeth. If you fall or injure yourself, check in with your doctor as soon as possible to make sure you do not have any internal bleeding.
- Avoid use of alcohol while taking clopidogrel. Daily use of alcohol while taking this medication increases your risk of stomach bleeding.
- Always tell your healthcare providers, including your dentist, that you are taking clopidogrel. Some procedures require you to stop your medication to limit the chance of bleeding. Do not stop your medication on your own; your health care provider will tell you exactly when to stop and restart your medication.
- Let your pharmacist or doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking this medication.
Interactions & Side Effects
- Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if clopidogrel is safe for you to take.
- Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Many medications have the potential to cause bleeding, and you need to know what you can and cannot take with this medication. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.
- Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any bleeding disorders, recent surgeries, a history of stomach disorder, or any liver, kidney or heart disease.
- While taking clopidogrel, you may feel some upset stomach, headache or nausea. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
- Call your doctor right away if you have any unusual bleeding such as bleeding from your gums, a constant nosebleed or prolonged bleeding from a cut.
- Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any blood in your urine or stool or are vomiting or coughing up blood.
- Call emergency 911 if you have any symptoms of a heart attack such as chest and left arm pain, shortness of breath and sweating or if you have symptoms of a stroke such as weakness on one side of your body, slurred speech, sudden vision changes, and confusion.
If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.