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Taking Plavix

Plavix (clopidogrel) is a medication often prescribed for people with arteriosclerosis. This is the condition where plaque (a fatty material) builds up in artery walls, narrowing the channel where blood flows. A blood clot can then form on the plaque. This may block the artery, cutting off blood flow and causing a heart attack, also known as acute myocardial infarction, or AMI, or stroke. Plavix can help prevent these clots.

Cross section of artery with plaque in wall.
Plavix helps prevent blood clots from forming on plaque and blocking an artery.

What Plavix Does

Plavix is an antiplatelet medication. It helps make platelets less sticky and less likely to cause clots to form. This reduces the risk of blockage. Plavix can be taken daily by people at high risk of heart attack or stroke. It is also used after placement of a stent (tiny wire mesh tube) in an artery. This helps prevent blood clots from forming on the stent. Your healthcare provider can explain the risks and benefits of taking Plavix.

Taking Plavix Safely

Tell your doctor about any other medications you take. Also, mention if you have a history of ulcers or bleeding problems. Ask whether you will need to stop taking Plavix before having surgery or dental work. Always take medications as directed.

Important: Do not stop taking Plavix without talking to the healthcare provider who prescribed this medication.

Tips for Taking Plavix

  • Develop a routine. For example, take Plavix with the same meal each day.

  • Don’t skip doses. Plavix needs to be taken daily to be effective.

  • Talk with your pharmacist. Ask what to do if you skip a dose.

  • Keep track of what you take. A pillbox with days of the week can help, especially if you take several medications. Or use a list or chart to keep track.

When to Call the Doctor

Side effects of taking Plavix are uncommon. If you do have problems, your doctor may suggest a dosage change. Call your doctor if you have:

  • Excessive bruising (some bruising is normal).

  • Bleeding that won’t stop.

  • Upset stomach, stomach pain, constipation, or other digestive problems.

  • Headache or dizziness.

Online Medical Reviewer: Fitzgerald, Karen R, NP
Online Medical Reviewer: Toursarkissian, Boulos, MD
Last Review Date: 12/20/2011
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