|Antiplatelet Drugs and Heart Disease
The most common theme in understanding types of heart disease is that the heart must have a viable supply of oxygen to function to its fullest capacity. Without oxygen, the heart can become damaged and will have to work harder to pump the same amount of blood throughout the body, putting more stress on the heart than usual.
Platelets are the body’s way of plugging an injury or wound that has resulted in blood leakage. Platelets work by grouping together at the site of injury, thus stopping the blood from flowing. While this is a beneficial protection mechanism, it can be a dangerous when a blood vessel or artery suffers an injury. Platelets can aggregate and cause blood clots to form, thus putting more stress on the arteries to deliver blood. Patients with heart disease or who are at risk for developing heart disease may thus be treated with antiplatelet medications. These medications can prevent the body from forming these potentially dangerous blood clots. Like other prescription medications, these antiplatelet drugs can have both positive and negative effects.
While aspirin is a very common and prevalent antiplatelet drug, other types of prescription antiplatelet drugs are also administered. These drugs can include Plavix and Ticlid, for example. Antiplatelet drugs are commonly administered to prevent coronary artery disease, angina, and peripheral artery disease, among other diseases. Furthermore, if taken within approximately 30 minutes of the onset of a heart attack, these antiplatelet drugs can also reduce potential damage to the heart. These drugs can also be prescribed after heart surgeries.
Antiplatelet drugs can add a large amount of sodium to your bloodstream. It is therefore a good idea to talk to your doctor about possibly cutting out excess sodium from your diet while you are taking antiplatelet medications. Also, since these drugs are anti-clotting drugs, people with bleeding problems and ulcers should discuss with their doctors whether taking these medications is appropriate for them. People undergoing surgery or pregnant women should also evaluate the risks associated with taking antiplatelet medications. It is not known how antiplatelet drugs affect infants, although they can be passed through breast milk. Any questions or concerns about antiplatelet drugs should be directed to your healthcare provider.