Clopidogrel is an antiplatelet medicine, or blood thinner. It makes your blood flow through your veins more easily.
Clopidogrel comes as tablets and is only available on prescription.
Brand names available in Ireland are:
Uses of clopidogrel
Taking clopidogrel helps prevent blood clots if you have or have had:
- a heart attack
- unstable angina
- a stroke or "mini-stroke" (transient ischaemic attack or TIA)
- peripheral arterial disease
- an operation on your heart or blood vessels, such as a coronary stent insertion
- irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation)
Get emergency help
You might have to get emergency help if you:
- get a serious allergic reaction
- have serious side effects
- take too much
Serious allergic reaction
A serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to clopidogrel is rare
Emergency action required: Call 999 or 112 or go to an emergency department (ED) if:
- you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
- you're wheezing
- you get tightness in your chest or throat
- you have trouble breathing or talking
- your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling
Serious side effects
Serious side effects are rare.
Urgent advice: Call your GP straight away if:
- you're coughing up blood, or there's blood in your pee, poo or vomit
- your skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow - you may also have some bleeding or red pinpoint dots on your skin
- you feel very tired or have signs of an infection, such as a fever (38 degrees Celsius or above) or sore throat - these can be signs of a blood or bone marrow disorder
If you take too much
Accidentally taking one or 2 extra tablets is unlikely to harm you.
Urgent advice: Phone a GP immediately if:
- you’ve taken some extra tablets and notice any signs of bleeding
Check if you can take clopidogrel
You can only take clopidogrel if you’re aged 18 and over.
Check with your GP before starting to take clopidogrel if you:
- have had an allergic reaction any to medicine in the past or any of the ingredients in clopidogrel
- have a medical condition that causes bleeding such as a stomach ulcer or bleeding within the brain
- have severe liver disease
- have had a clot in an artery of your brain (ischaemic stroke) in the last 7 days
- have had or you are planning to have surgery
- are trying to get pregnant, already pregnant or breastfeeding
Pregnant or breastfeeding
Do not take clopidogrel if you’re pregnant, think you may be pregnant, trying for a baby or are breastfeeding.
Ask your GP or pharmacist for advice.
When you start taking clopidogrel
You may not notice any difference in how you feel after you start taking clopidogrel. This does not mean the medicine is not working.
Carry on taking clopidogrel as your GP has told you, even if you feel well. You'll still be getting the benefits.
Urgent advice: Phone a GP immediately if:
- you are worried about any bleeding
Do not drink more than the recommended amount of alcohol per week while taking clopidogrel.
This is 17 units for men and 11 units for women while taking
Clopidogrel can irritate your stomach if you drink alcohol.
How and when to take it
Take clopidogrel once a day, at the same time each day.
You can take it with or without food.
Check with your GP about how long you should take clopidogrel for.
do not stop taking clopidogrel without talking to your GP first.
do not drink grapefruit juice while you are taking clopidogrel. Grapefruit juice may increase the blood-thinning effect of your medicine.
If you forget to take it
Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose.
If you forget to take clopidogrel, take it as soon as you remember.
If you do not remember until the following day, skip the missed dose and continue as normal.
Talk to your GP, a pharmacist or a nurse if side effects bother you or do not go away.
Side effects include:
- bleeding more easily than normal - nosebleeds, bruising more easily or bleeding that takes longer to stop
- stomach pain
- indigestion or heartburn
Read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine for a full list of side effects.
Non-urgent advice: Find your patient information leaflet
Your patient information leaflet is the leaflet that comes with your medicine. You can find a digital version of the leaflet online.
Report side effects
You can report any suspected side effects to the the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA): report an issue - hrpa.ie
Taking clopidogrel with other medicines
Some medicines interfere with the way clopidogrel works. Before you start taking clopidogrel, check with your GP, a pharmacist or nurse if you’re on any other medicines or supplements.
Do not take aspirin for pain relief (300mg tablets) or ibuprofen while you're taking clopidogrel, unless your GP has said it's OK. They increase the chance of bleeding.
You can take paracetamol with clopidogrel.
Do not take indigestion remedies called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as omeprazole and esomeprazole as they may reduce the effect of clopidogrel.
Your GP can prescribe you a different PPI (such as lansoprazole), if you have indigestion and need a medicine to protect your stomach.
You can take other indigestion remedies such as antacids at the same time as clopidogrel.
Some medicines used to treat depression called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can increase the chance of bleeding.
Talk to a GP before starting clopidogrel if you are taking an antidepressant.
Taking clopidogrel before surgery or dental treatment
Do not stop taking clopidogrel without first talking to your GP or dentist.
They'll tell you if you need to stop taking clopidogrel before a procedure.
Having a vaccination while taking clopidogrel
You can have vaccinations while taking clopidogrel.
Tell the GP or nurse giving you the vaccine that you're taking a blood thinner.
This content was fact checked by a pharmacist, a GP, the National Medication Safety Programme (Safermeds) and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).