Clopidogrel to prevent blood clots

  • Clopidogrel reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke in people who have cardiovascular disease.
  • Take one tablet each day.
  • It might take longer than normal to stop bleeding if you cut yourself while you are taking clopidogrel.

About clopidogrel

Type of medicine An antiplatelet
Used for To prevent clots forming in hardened arteries (blood vessels)
Also called Grepid®
Plavix®
Available as Tablets

In your blood there are 'sticky' cells called platelets. When you cut yourself, the platelets stick to each other (clot) to seal the wound. Sometimes a clot may form in a blood vessel and block it, causing a stroke or heart attack. This is more likely to happen if you have thickening or 'hardening' of your arteries which occurs in cardiovascular disease.

Clopidogrel reduces the stickiness of platelets. It will help to protect you from blood clots forming in your arteries, which will reduce the risk of you having a heart attack or stroke. You will have been given clopidogrel if you have recently had a heart attack or stroke, or if you have symptoms of a condition which increases your risk of having one, such as peripheral arterial disease, acute coronary syndrome, or atrial fibrillation.

Clopidogrel may be used on its own, or with low-dose aspirin, which is another antiplatelet medicine.

Before taking clopidogrel

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking clopidogrel it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have recently had any surgery.
  • If you have a condition which causes bleeding, such as a stomach ulcer.
  • If you have liver or kidney problems.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to any other medicine.
  • If you are taking any other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.

How to take clopidogrel

  • Before you start taking clopidogrel, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the specific brand of clopidogrel you have been given, and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
  • Take clopidogrel exactly as your doctor has told you. The usual dose is one (75 mg) tablet each day.
  • You may take clopidogrel at whatever time of day you find easiest to remember, but try to take your doses at the same time each day. Most people prefer to take it in the morning, as they find this helps them to remember to take it.
  • You can take the tablets before, during, or after your meals.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you do not remember until the following day, skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.

Getting the most from your treatment

  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • Do not take any 'over-the-counter' medicines while you are taking clopidogrel unless you have checked with your pharmacist which medicines are suitable for you to take. You should not take preparations which contain aspirin or any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen, unless your doctor has told you otherwise. This is because these medicines can increase the risk of bleeding when they are taken with clopidogrel.
  • It might take longer than normal to stop bleeding if you cut yourself while you are taking clopidogrel. If this happens and you find it difficult to stop the bleeding, contact your doctor. Also, if you notice any unusual or unexplained bleeding, speak with your doctor about this too.
  • If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking clopidogrel.

Can clopidogrel cause problems?

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common clopidogrel side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine What can I do if I experience this?
Bruising, nosebleeds, bleeding, bleeding under the skin (blood blisters) Because of the way clopidogrel works, any bleeding may take longer than normal to stop. If this becomes troublesome, let your doctor know
Indigestion, abdominal pain, diarrhoea Stick to simple meals - avoid any rich or spicy foods. Drink plenty of water to replace any lost fluids

Important: if you experience the following very rare but serious symptoms, contact your doctor for advice straightaway, as these may be signs of a condition known as thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura:

  • A high temperature.
  • Bruising under the skin, like red pinpoint dots.
  • Feeling confused or extremely tired.
  • Jaundice (yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes).

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

How to store clopidogrel

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.