Anti-platelets are a group of medications that are given to help prevent the blood from creating clots or becoming thickened. They are often given as a preventative measure aiming to reduce the likelihood of dangerous illness and problems from occurring.
What are Platelets?Platelets are naturally occurring cells that are a valuable part of blood. They exist to help us stop bleeding by creating a mesh like clot over the cut or scratch allowing for a scab to develop. Combined with specific clotting factors also present in the blood platelets have a sticky outer edge that allows for them to cling together growing in size until an adequate covering and clot is produced.
They are essential in life as they prevent us from bleeding excessive, sometimes fatally, help our wounds to heal and allow our blood to remain the correct consistency.
Why do I Need Anti-Platelet Medication?For some people, blood can become too thick and be potentially dangerous to health. If the blood within our vessels thickens it can create problems such as clogging up an artery preventing blood, oxygen and nutrients from reaching tissues and organs.
If this occurs within the coronary arteries, the heart muscle can become oxygen depleted and angina or even a heart attack can occur, which can prove to be life threatening.
Conditions that may indicate the use for anti-platelet medications include history of previous heart attack or angina, coronary artery disease, stroke or TIA’s (transient ischemic attacks), peripheral artery disease or following surgery, especially surgery that has involved the use of stents, grafts or other devices concerned with the heart and circulatory system.
How Do They Work?There are three main types of drugs that act as anti-platelet medications, each having their own mechanisms, but essentially they work by decreasing the platelet ability to adhere to each other or combine with fibrin, which is an essential clotting factor.
Potential Side-EffectsAs with many medications there are certain side effects that have been reported. Some people will not suffer from of these effects whereas others may experience a combination of them. These effects include nausea, stomach ache and itching. These effects are fairly common and are not serious if no further symptoms develop. Your doctor may suggest further medicines or treatments to help alleviate the severity or frequency of these symptoms.
More serious effects include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Stomach pain
- Increased bleeding, sometimes apparent in stools, urine, vomit, cuts or as a product of coughing.
If at any time, you experience a heavy bleed, either from the mouth, vagina or back passage, gain a medical opinion immediately.
Always inform any healthcare professional who has input into your health that you are currently taking anti-platelet medication.
Anti-platelet medications are drugs given to help prevent the blood from clotting and causing severe medical illnesses and problems. They are extremely valuable in preventative medicine and work by reducing the ‘stickiness’ of the platelets, which are naturally present in the blood.