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Medications for TIA/Stroke Prevention

Anti-platelet medications

Anti-platelet medications used to prevent and reduce the risk of stroke include:

  • Aspirin
  • Aspirin/extended-release dipyridamole (Aggrenox®)
  • Clopidogrel (Plavix®)
  • Ticlopidine (Ticlid®)

Aspirin is the most commonly used preventive therapy for patients at risk for stroke. However, at least 10 percent of patients are unable to take aspirin long-term, usually due to stomach problems.

Ticlid® and Plavix® are anti-platelet agent medications that are alternatives to aspirin.

As with any medication, it’s important that you understand how and when to take the medication and to follow your doctor’s guidelines.

The type of medication you were prescribed, how long you need to take it, and the type of follow-up monitoring you’ll need depends on your diagnosis. Be sure to keep all scheduled follow-up appointments with your doctor and the laboratory so your response to the medication can be monitored.

Anticoagulant medications

The anticoagulant medication that is usually prescribed to reduce the risk of stroke is warfarin (Coumadin®). Warfarin usually is prescribed in patients with atrial fibrillation and other cardiovascular disorders to reduce the risk of stroke. If you are in the hospital, heparin is an anticoagulant that may be given intravenously. Anticoagulants can also be injected into the skin to prevent clots in the legs. Such clots can form when patients are on bedrest.

What do anticoagulant medications do?

Anticoagulants decrease the blood’s ability to clot and prevent the formation of additional clots. If you are prescribed an anticoagulant, your follow-up will include frequent blood tests so your response to the medication can be monitored.

What treatments exist for acute strokes?

The only FDA-approved treatment for acute (sudden onset) stroke is the administration of a thrombolytic agent, or "clot buster," including streptokinase or streptase and tissue plasminogen activator (TPA). These medications can dissolve the blockage within the artery to restore blood flow to the brain. They must be given within the first three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms and are usually given in a hospital where the patient can be closely monitored. The risk, however, is bleeding into the brain, which can worsen the disability. Patients need to be carefully screened and evaluated before and after thrombolytic treatment.

Are there any new treatments under development?

There are many clinical research studies underway that test new treatments for acute stroke. In the appropriate situation, your doctor will present these options.

References

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 1/21/2012...#5447


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