Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Today, surviving a stroke is much more common thanks to better medications on the market. However, some common medications can still come with life-altering side effects. It’s important to be aware of the following medications and their potentially deadly risks.
This medication is usually directed for use to lower the risk of blood clots. Aspirin thins the blood, so it is often prescribed after bypass surgery or any surgery on clogged arteries. While the serious side effects are rare, there are things you can do to help prevent them. Do not lie down for at least 10 minutes after taking the drug. Also, do not chew extended release tablets. This releases all of the medication at once, increasing the risk of side effects.
Side effect: Increased risk of stroke
This sounds counterproductive, but that’s because there are two types of strokes: ischemic and hemorrhagic. According to the American Heart Association, about 87% of strokes in adults are ischemic (due to a blood clot). Once an ischemic stroke occurs, aspirin may be prescribed. However, daily aspirin therapy to prevent a second ischemic stroke can actually increase the chances of developing a hemorrhagic stroke. Hemorrhagic strokes happen when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures.
Side effect: Stomach or intestinal rupture
Since aspirin thins the blood, it poses an increased risk of internal bleeding. Plus, those who take it have a greater chance of developing a stomach ulcer. If you take aspirin and already have an ulcer, it will increase the bleeding. If left untreated, this can potentially cause life-threatening stomach damage.
Plavix is a brand name for a medication known as clopidogrel. It’s typically given to patients who have already had a heart attack or stroke. It can also be used by those who have a history of circulation problems. Plavix works as a platelet inhibitor. It reduces the chance of blood clots by preventing platelets in the blood from sticking together.
Here are a few serious side effects that may accompany Plavix:
Side effect: Severe bleeding
Plavix is also a blood thinner, which means increased bleeding can be a rare but serious side effect. Bleeding in the stomach, gut, eyes, or brain may occur while taking this blood thinner. Swelling of the eyes can also occur. Diarrhea or vomiting are signs you should immediately talk to your doctor.
Side effect: Blood disorders
Plavix has been known to cause a rare but severe blood disorder. Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura — known as TTP — can form blood clots in small blood vessels throughout the body. Symptoms can appear any time after starting Plavix. These include severe stomach pain, uncontrolled bleeding from the gums or nose, confusion, unusual weakness, and more, according to WebMD.
Statins include medications like Lipitor and Crestor. They’re most commonly used to reduce high cholesterol in adults. Statins reduce a person’s total cholesterol in order to reduce their overall risk for a heart attack or stroke. Statins work by blocking a substance in the liver that helps produce cholesterol.
Side effect: Muscle damage
Muscle damage can show in the form of soreness in the muscles and tiredness or weakness. In rare cases, statins can cause life-threatening muscle damage known as rhabdomyolysis. Apart from muscle damage, this disease can lead to liver damage and kidney failure, which can cause death. You should not take statins with certain drugs that can pose an increased risk of rhabdomyolysis.
Side effect: Liver damage
Liver damage can occur on its own without rhabdomyolysis, according to MayoClinic.org. This happens when statins cause an increase in the enzymes that signal liver inflammation. This is rare, and different statins affect different livers, so it’s possible to switch to another statin and solve the problem. However, a doctor may stop statin completely before causing severe damage. Symptoms of liver damage include pain in the upper abdomen, yellowed skin or eyes, or dark urine.