Abstracted from Mayo Clinic By: Sheila Kun RN, BSN, MS, CPN, FCCP
If you’ve had an ischemic stroke or TIA, your doctor may recommend medications to help reduce your risk of having another stroke. These include:
- Anti-platelet drugs. Platelets are cells in your blood that form clots. Anti-platelet drugs make these cells less sticky and less likely to clot. The most commonly used anti-platelet medication is aspirin. Your doctor can help you determine the right dose of aspirin for you.
Your doctor might also consider prescribing Aggrenox, a combination of low-dose aspirin and the anti-platelet drug dipyridamole to reduce the risk of blood clotting. After a TIA or minor stroke, your doctor may give you aspirin and an anti-platelet drug such as clopidogrel (Plavix) for a period of time to reduce the risk of another stroke. If you can’t take aspirin, your doctor may prescribe clopidogrel alone.
- These drugs reduce blood clotting. Heparin is fast acting and may be used short-term in the hospital.
Slower-acting warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) may be used over a longer term. Warfarin is a powerful blood-thinning drug, so you’ll need to take it exactly as directed and watch for side effects. You’ll also need to have regular blood tests to monitor warfarin’s effects.
Several newer blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants) are available for preventing strokes in people who have a high risk. These medications include dabigatran (Pradaxa), rivaroxaban (Xarelto), apixaban (Eliquis) and edoxaban (Savaysa). They’re shorter acting than warfarin and usually don’t require regular blood tests or monitoring by your doctor. These drugs are also associated with a lower risk of bleeding complications.
Your homework from the Care Ministry this week: if you or someone you know are on these medications, read the labels to better understanding the purpose of these preventive medication.
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