Clopidogrel, a prescription drug also known by the brand name Plavix®, inhibits the blood-clotting process. This drug is prescribed to prevent harmful blood clots from occurring in patients with coronary disease. Alcohol is not recommended for those taking clopidogrel because there is an increased possibility of hemorrhaging with this drug, and a combination of clopidogrel and alcohol can amplify this danger. In addition to increased risk of bleeding, other common side effects of this drug include flu-like symptoms and headache.
Patients taking this prescription drug can bleed and bruise easily, and it is obvious that a mixture of clopidogrel and alcohol can be extremely hazardous. Alcohol can cause ulcers, which lead to bleeding in the digestive tract. The combination of clopidogrel and alcohol is not safe for a patient since there is already a risk of bleeding in the digestive tract with this drug. Patients who have combined clopidogrel and alcohol, and notice black stools or blood in their urine or stools should contact a doctor immediately.
Before taking this medication, patients are cautioned to tell their doctors about any bleeding conditions they may already have. Those taking this drug should also take precautions against any activity, such as certain sports, that can lead to a bleeding event. Even a minor cut or a nosebleed can sometimes become a concern for someone taking clopidogrel. Patients planning to have a surgical procedure should inform their doctors that they are taking clopidogrel.
Clopidogrel keeps the blood flowing through the body and prevents blockages that may lead to heart attack or stroke. Platelets in the blood are key to the blood clotting process, and clopidogrel inhibits platelet function in hemostasis — the medical term for the blood clotting process. Someone who has suffered a heart attack or stroke may be at an increased risk of forming blood clots, which could clog blood vessels and precipitate another stroke or cardiac event. In addition to prescribing clopidogrel for people who have suffered a heart attack or stroke, doctors also prescribe it as a preventative medication for those with known heart disease like atherosclerosis. Clopidogrel is also used after certain cardiac procedures and surgeries, such as a cardiac stent or bypass surgery.
Other common side effects of clopidogrel besides bleeding and bruising include flu-like symptoms, headache, dizziness, upset stomach, diarrhea and skin rash. Some reports claim that clopidogrel has been associated with developing thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). This blood disorder leads to a chronic low platelet count that can impair the clotting of blood.