Blood thinners are drugs that reduce the thickness of the blood flowing in the blood vessels. They are also called ‘antiplatelet agents’ as they prevent the clumping of platelets in the blood stream. Blood thinners are widely used in managing patients with heart disease, and also have a role in patients with high blood pressure and diabetes.
Here, we take a look at some of the common blood thinning medication prescribed to patients with heart disease. Please note that it is not advisable to take any medication without prescription from a registered doctor.
1. Aspirin (Ecosprin)
Aspirin is the most commonly prescribed drug in heart disease. It is prescribed in various doses ranging from 75 mg once a day to 325 mg once a day.
Aspirin works by blocking the function of prostaglandins and thromboxane by acting on an enzyme called cyclo-oxygenase. Thromboxane and prostaglandins are products that are responsible for clumping and sticking of platelets, and by blocking their production aspirin can prevent the formation of blood clots. Blood clots in the arteries are responsible for heart attacks and strokes.
Aspirin has a side effect of causing increased acid production in the stomach, leading to acidity. It hence must be taken after food. It is ideally avoided in bronchial asthma.
Read more about Aspirin here.
2. Clopidogrel (Clavix, Plagerine, Clopilet)
Clopidogrel is a blood thinner that works by blocking certain receptors on the surface of the platelets that are responsible for them sticking together. It has a rapid onset of action and has a very good effect on thinning the blood.
Drug doses are usually 75 mg once or twice a day. In patients suffering from a heart attack or those undergoing angioplasty, a higher dose of 300mg or 600mg may be given once.
Side effects include increased risk of bleeding. Unlike aspirin, clopidogrel does not have the side effect of causing acidity.
3. Prasugrel (Prasita)
This is a blood thinner that acts similar to clopidogrel. It blocks certain special receptors called P2Y12 ADP receptors on the surface of the platelets, rendering them less sticky and unable to clump together.
Prasugrel is currently used in the treatment of patients who undergo angioplasty, and does not have a primary role in the management of patients with angina or high blood pressure.
You can read more about Prasugrel here.
4. Ticagrelor (Brilinta)
This drug is a reversible platelet receptor blocker, and an effective blood thinner. It is a relatively new drug on the market.
Ticagrelor is sometimes used in patients who have suffered from an acute coronary syndrome along with aspirin. It is prescribed in 90mg doses, either once or twice a day.
Read more about ticagrelor here.