Clopidogrel

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Clopidogrel is an antiplatelet medicine. It reduces the risk of blood clots forming.

Clopidogrel is only available with a prescription.

What is clopidogrel used for?

You may be given clopidogrel if you’ve had:

How clopidogrel works

Normally, when there is a cut or break in a small blood vessel, a blood clot forms. This plugs the hole until the blood vessel heals.

Small cells in the blood called platelets cause the blood to clot.

Clopidogrel reduces the ability of the platelets to stick together. This reduces the risk of clots forming and protects you from having a stroke or heart attack.

Clopidogrel and low-dose aspirin

Sometimes, you may be given both low-dose aspirin (75mg) and clopidogrel. Taken together, they’re very effective. But, there’s a higher risk of bleeding, usually in the gut. This risk increases with age.

This combination of treatment is prescribed for a limited period of time. This is usually up to a maximum of 12 months. After this period, your specialist will usually tell you to stop 1 of the 2 antiplatelet medications.

Missed or extra doses

If you forget to take your dose of clopidogrel, take it as soon as you remember. You should then continue to take your course of clopidogrel as normal.

But, if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose. You should then continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

If you have to take 2 doses closer together than normal, there’s an increased risk of side effects.

Read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine for more information.

You should speak to your GP or pharmacist if you accidentally take an extra dose or doses of clopidogrel. If your GP or pharmacy are closed, phone 111.

Possible side effects

Clopidogrel can cause side effects but serious reactions are rare. Speak to your GP if you have any side effects that get worse or don’t go away.

Common side effects

Common side effects of clopidogrel can include:

Allergic reactions

In some cases, clopidogrel can cause an allergic reaction.

Phone 999 or go to A&E if:

You or someone else is taking clopidogrel and develop:

  • swelling of the lips, mouth or throat
  • breathing problems
  • a skin rash that appears quickly

Speak to your GP practice if:

You are taking clopidogrel and experience serious side effects like:

  • rashes
  • itching
  • severe stomach ache or abdominal pain
  • uncontrolled bleeding
  • unusual bruising
  • vomiting with blood
  • weakness or numbness in an arm or leg
  • blood in your pee
  • blood in your poo

If your GP is closed, phone 111.

Warnings and precautions

Clopidogrel should not be taken if you have:

  • an active (bleeding) peptic ulcer
  • recently had a brain haemorrhage
  • haemophilia or any other bleeding disorder

This is unless you’re advised by your specialist.

To make sure clopidogrel is suitable for you, you should also tell you’re doctor if you:

  • have liver problems
  • have kidney problems
  • are at risk of bleeding – for example, if you’re at risk of peptic ulcers
  • have had an allergic reaction to any medications

Your doctor, dentist or pharmacist may advise you to stop taking clopidogrel for a short time before a procedure or dental treatment. You should only make changes or stop medication following advice from a health professional.

Children

Clopidogrel must not be given to anyone under 18 years old, unless under specialist advice.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Clopidogrel is not recommended if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Other medicines and clopidogrel

Clopidogrel can interact with some other medicines.

There is an increased risk of bleeding when clopidogrel is taken with some other medications, including:

Some medications may also prevent clopidogrel from working as well as it should. They may also interact in other ways.

To ensure your regular medicines are safe to take with clopidogrel, you should read the patient information leaflet. If you’re still unsure, ask your GP or pharmacist.

Driving and machinery

Clopidogrel is unlikely to affect your ability to drive. But some people may feel dizzy when taking it. You should avoid driving if you feel dizzy.

Food and drink

There are no known interactions between clopidogrel and food. You should take clopidogrel with or after food to help reduce irritation to the stomach.

It may be safe to drink alcohol with clopidogrel as long as you:

Taking more than the recommended dose of clopidogrel increases the risk of irritation to your stomach lining. This risk is increased if you drink more alcohol than the recommended daily limit.

Last updated:
23 July 2024