Recent research has linked Plavix to catastrophic side effects, such as gastrointestinal bleeding, brain hemorrhage, stroke, and death. When used with aspirin, Plavix doubles the likelihood that a person will experience cerebral bleeding, hemorrhage, or other life-threatening side effect.
Plavix Bleeding Study Ended
Aspirin and Plavix are the two most popular drugs used as blood-thinners. Physicians prescribe these medications to decrease a patient’s likelihood of stroke and heart attack caused by a blood clot. The most recent clinical research studied whether Plavix and aspirin used together would further reduce a person’s chance of injury or death caused by stroke, heart attack, or other blood clot complications.
Specifically, the doctors were investigating the rate of “subcortical” strokes, which occur in the brain and are caused by blood clots in the small vessels.
The study was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in conjunction with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). More than 3,000 adults who had a high risk of suffering “subcortical” and other recurrent strokes were involved in the research. When the reserachers examined preliminary results, they immediately stopped the study. The following rates of death and bleeding were found:
- 6.5% of Plavix-aspirin users experienced a serious bleeding event, compared with 3.3% of aspirin-only users.
- 5.8% of Plavix users died, compared to only 4.1% of aspirin-only users.
Plavix used in conjunction with aspirin doubled a person’s chance of having a serious bleeding event, increased the chance of death. They were also more likely to suffer serious cardiovascular injury.
Cerebral Bleeding and Hemorrhage
What is Cerebral hemorrhage? It is also known as “intra-cranial bleeding” or simply “bleeding in the brain.” Injury and brain damage occur when a blood vessel in the brain breaks. Blood may pool on the brain (called a “hematoma”), coagulate, and kill the brain cells it comes in contact with. Hemorrhages are usually very sudden, and symptoms are immediately noticeable, though sometimes they are small and symptoms develop over the course of a day or two. This type of bleeding event is extremely dangerous. A burst vessel can cause a hemorrhagic stroke, which is a type of stroke that occurs when blood on the brain kills brain cells (strokes may also occur when blood clots block blood vessels, starving parts of the brain of oxygen). Hemorrhagic strokes account for 8-13% of all strokes in the U.S., and are a leading cause of disability among the elderly. Strokes are the third leading cause of death among Americans.
Signs & Symptoms of Cerebral Bleeding
Are you are at risk of stroke? Even if you have no family history of strokes, you should know the symptoms. Certain types of medications, such as Plavix, increase your risk of bleeding in the brain. Approximately 40-50% of people will have the following initial symptoms: alterations in the level of consciousness, nausea, vomiting, and headaches. Around 6-7% of people will suddenly have a seizure.
- Abnormal sense of taste
- Change in alertness — feeling sleepy, stuporous, or going unconscious
- Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty writing
- Loss of coordination or balance; falling
- Loss of motor skills — including hand tremors, difficulty moving a body part, weakness
- Nausea, vomiting
- Numbness or tingling, abnormal sensation
- Vision changes — blurry vision, double vision, eyelid drooping, uncontrollable eye movements
These symptoms might seem minor, but they may be precursors to a life-threatening event. If you have any of these symptoms, immediately call 911.
Cerebral Bleeding Treatment
All types of hemorrhage or bleeding in the brain necessitates emergency surgery to mitigate the chance of debilitation or death. Depending on the severity of the bleeding, the treatment will vary from person to person. Usually, the individual will be given oxygen on a respirator and given anesthesia. Then a neurosurgeon will make an incision in the skull to drain the blood and relieve pressure, if possible. If the bleeding is the result of a ruptured artery, the artery will need to be repaired. The bleeding must be stopped before a surgeon can close the cranium.
Damage to the brain that has been caused by the stroke is permanent. The most common debilitations include slurred speech, paralysis on parts of the body, hand tremors, and other disabilities. Some people may enter a coma after suffering this type of stroke. In severe cases, a person who suffers this type of stroke will need to live in a long-term nursing home.
What is the problem with Plavix?
Doctors prescribe Plavix to people who are at risk of developing blood clots that can cause recurrent strokes, heart attacks, or other serious injury. Clots form in the body when the platelets clump together, usually in the extremities. When blood clots break free and are pumped through the body (also known as an “embolism”), they may get stuck in the heart, brain, lungs, or other major internal organ. When they block the vessel, this causes a heart attack or stroke. Plavix contains an active ingredient that inhibits the enzyme platelets need to clump together. Unfortunately, this may also cause life-threatening bleeding events.
FDA Research & Safety Warnings
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent the Plavix marketing-team a warning letter after TV commercials for Plavix made “representations and/or suggestions about the efficacy of Plavix, but fail to communicate any risk information associated with the use of this drug.” The commercials may have misled millions of people into believing that Plavix was safer than aspirin.
- The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) studied whether Plavix was “easier on a person’s stomach” than aspirin. The researchers found, in reality, Plavix-users are twelve times more likely to have stomach ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, cerebral bleeding in the brain, and hemorrhages.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that Plavix, when combined with common medications such as Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, or Aciphex, inactivated the anti-clotting enzyme in Plavix. A person taking both these medications would have very little protection against heart attacks and stroke caused by blood clots.