Plavix plus aspirin may be a risky combination

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Plavix plus aspirin may be a risky combination

Researchers question the safety of combining Plavix and aspirin to prevent first heart attacks.

What happened? A new study has found that adding the anti-clotting drug clopidogrel (Plavix) to a daily dose of aspirin — compared with aspirin alone — does not reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke for people at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In fact, if you don't have a history of cardiovascular disease, combining Plavix and aspirin may do more harm than good.

Plavix is a relatively new drug that inhibits formation of blood clots. It's sometimes called a "superaspirin." Doctors often prescribe Plavix along with aspirin to help prevent heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular events.

The international study, sponsored by the makers of Plavix, included more than 15,000 people in two groups. One group had a history of heart attack or stroke or experienced symptoms of clogged arteries. The other group had risk factors for heart attack or stroke — such as high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol — but no established cardiovascular disease.

Researchers found that the combination of Plavix and aspirin may benefit people with a history of heart attack or other cardiovascular events. But they found that combining Plavix and aspirin actually increases the risk of internal bleeding and death for people who only have risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

What does this mean to you? If you're at risk of cardiovascular disease but have no history of heart attack or stroke, aspirin alone may help prevent a heart problem. And results of the study indicate you shouldn't take aspirin combined with Plavix.

However, for other people, the combination of Plavix and aspirin may still offer benefits. If you've had a heart attack or stroke or if you've had a procedure to open your arteries, your doctor may recommend combining Plavix or another anti-clotting drug with aspirin.

Last Updated: 03/14/2006
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