Tips for Taking Blood Thinners After an Angioplasty

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS

Angioplasty opens up blocked blood vessels to make it easier for blood to flow to your heart. Afterwards, many people need to take medications. That's because blood clots are a serious risk after angioplasty.

The medication you would take is called a blood thinner. These medications help keep blood clots from forming. Doctors usually prescribe special blood thinners—known as antiplatelet agents—after an angioplasty. They include clopidogrel (Plavix), ticagrelor (Brilinta) and prasugrel (Effient). These medicines are used with aspirin to help keep blocked blood vessels open after an angioplasty.

However, taking a blood thinner means you'll bleed more easily. It's also harder to stop bleeding. You may bruise more easily. If you have an accident or even get a simple cut or injury, the bleeding can cause serious problems.

This makes it important to understand how blood thinners work and what you should do to prevent bleeding problems.

Take blood thinners safely.

Follow these tips:

  • Take your blood thinner every day as your doctor recommends. You might need to take your medication at the same time every day. Never take two doses at once if you forget. Just take the next dose as soon as you remember. Then get back on track. You can always call your doctor for advice if you get off schedule.

  • Tell your doctor about all medication you take. Include over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, prescription drugs, supplements, and herbs. Your doctor will explain what is safe for you to take with your blood thinner.

  • Ask your doctor about OTC medications that contain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). These medications can cause problems if you take them with a blood thinner because they also thin the blood.

Also, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or think you might get pregnant. Taking blood thinners during pregnancy can cause birth defects and other complications.

Change your diet.

Certain lifestyle habits can affect the way blood thinner medicines work. Once you're taking a blood thinner, you may need to make some changes.

Alcohol needs to be on your watch list. That's because alcohol thins your blood. It's important to avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking blood thinners.

It's also important to eat a heart-healthy diet and maybe even lose weight after angioplasty. If you want to change your diet to help you lose weight, talk to your doctor first about the safest way to do it.

Prevent accidents.

Even a small accident can mean big trouble if you're taking blood thinners. Serious bleeding can result.

Take steps to protect yourself from getting hurt. For instance, be extra careful when using knives or sharp objects. It's best to avoid activities and sports where you could get seriously injured. If you ride a bike, always wear a helmet.

Even simple changes can help. Wear sturdy shoes that protect your feet from injury. Wear slippers with nonslip bottoms. Be careful shaving, flossing and trimming your nails. If you're working with anything sharp, wear gloves to protect your hands.

See your doctor if you get any major bruises. It's also important to let your doctor know about:

  • Blood in your urine or stools

  • Very heavy menstrual bleeding

  • Vomiting or coughing up blood

  • Heavy bleeding from your gums

  • Very bad headaches or stomachaches

  • Feeling dizzy or weak

If you hit your head, see your doctor right away. Even if you aren't bleeding on the outside, there could be serious bleeding inside your brain.

Was this helpful?

  1. What Is Coronary Angioplasty? American Heart Association.

  2. Prevent Bleeding When Taking Blood Thinners. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

  3. Blood Thinners and Food. National Blood Clot Alliance.

  4. Your Health: Vitamin K. American College of Cardiology.

  5. Blood Thinner Pills: Your Guide to Using Them Safely. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

  6. Clopidogrel. Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

  7. Ticagrelor. Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

  8. Prasugrel. Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Dec 10
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