Ask the doctor: How long do I need to keep taking Plavix?

Ask the doctor

How long do I need to keep taking Plavix?

Q. I need to catheterize myself because of bladder problems. In April 2007, I had five stents put in my heart and started taking Plavix. Since then, I sometimes see a light tinge of blood in the catheter bag, though lately the blood flow has been more substantial. The book Worst Pills, Best Pills says Plavix should be used for only a limited time, but my internist tells me I should be on it for the rest of my life. I am 88 years old and take aspirin (325 mg) every day. How long will I need to take Plavix?

A. Your question goes to the heart of one of cardiology's biggest controversies "" how long to take clopidogrel (Plavix) after getting a stent. I am guessing from what your internist told you that you received drug-coated stents, not the bare-metal variety. Current guidelines say to take Plavix and aspirin every day for a month after getting a bare-metal stent and daily for at least a year after getting a drug-coated stent to prevent blood clots from forming inside a stent. Called late stent thrombosis, such clots can cause a heart attack or cardiac arrest.

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