Dual antiplatelet therapy (also called DAPT) is a treatment to help stop harmful blood clots from forming. This involves taking 2 types of antiplatelet medicines. One of these medicines is usually ASA (aspirin) and the other is a special type of medicine called a P2Y12 inhibitor.
Platelets are tiny cells in your blood. When you get injured, platelets stick together and help form a blood clot at the injury. This helps to stop bleeding and starts healing. But sometimes blood clots are not good. They can harm your body if they form in certain places.
There are blood vessels that bring blood to your heart. Over time, plaque (a fatty substance) can build up in these blood vessels. This can cause them to become diseased and narrow. If the plaque breaks or tears open, your body tries to heal itself like a cut. The platelets stick together and form a clot. This can block the inside of the blood vessel so blood can’t get through to your heart, and you could have a heart attack.
Medicines that make platelets less sticky and less able to form clots are called antiplatelets. Stopping blood clots from forming can lower your risk of a heart attack. There are 2 main types of antiplatelet medicines.
The most well-known antiplatelet medicine is a low-dose ASA (such as aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid). Many people take it for their entire lives if they have disease in their heart blood vessels.
P2Y12 inhibitors are the second type of antiplatelet medicine. These include:
These medicines are an important part of treating health problems including:
How long you need to take these medicines depends on the health problem you have and your bleeding risk. Your doctor will talk to you about the best treatment for you. In general:
Do not stop taking these medicines unless your doctor tells you so. If you have stents in any of the heart blood arteries, it’s very important to take these medicines exactly the way your doctor prescribed them. If you miss doses or don’t take your medicines, you could get a clot inside the stent. You could have a severe heart attack or even die.
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Current as of: September 30, 2020
Author: Cardiovascular Health and Stroke, SCN, Alberta Health Services
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