Anti-clotting medicines used for stroke
You may be prescribed an anti-clotting medicine if you have had an ischaemic stroke or transient iscaemic attack (TIA), or you are at high risk of having one, especially if you’ve had a stroke or TIA before.
Whether you are given an anticoagulant (e.g. warfarin) or an antiplatelet (e.g. aspirin) medicine will depend on your condition, your individual level of risk and what type of stroke you are at risk of having. Only ischaemic strokes are treated or prevented with anti-clotting medicines.
While there are some risks with taking anti-clotting medicines (mainly bleeding-related), they are usually prescribed for people when the risk of stroke is of greater concern, so the overall benefit outweighs the risk.
Knowing as much as possible about your medicines and using them safely and correctly can help to reduce the chance of bleeding-related side effects.
Medicines for preventing stroke
If you have a medical condition or medical history that puts you at a higher risk of having a stroke — for example if you have atrial fibrillation or risk factors for coronary heart disease or a previous stroke — your doctor may prescribe an anticoagulant medicine to prevent blood clots forming. Your doctor will take your overall cardiovascular risk into account when deciding which medicine is appropriate for you.
Find out more about medicines used to prevent stroke.
Medicines for treating stroke
Treating a stroke is different from preventing one. If you have had an ischaemic stroke, you may be given medicine to break down (dissolve) the blood clots.
Find out more about the medicines used to treat a stroke.
Phone for medicines information
Call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) to get information about your prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamins and mineral supplements) from a pharmacist. Your call will be answered by healthdirect Australia (except Queensland and Victoria).
- Rossi S, (ed). Australian Medicines Handbook. Australian Medicines Handbook Pty Ltd, 2013.
- Gallus AS, Baker RI, Chong BH et al. Consensus guidelines for warfarin therapy. Med J Aust 2000;172(12):600–5. www.mja.com.au/public/issues/172_12_190600/gallus/gallus.html (accessed 14 June 2013).
- Borosak M, Choo S, Street A. Warfarin: balancing the benefits and harms. Aust Prescr 2004;27:88–92. www.australianprescriber.com/magazine/27/4/88/92/ (accessed 14 June 2013).
- NPS Medicine Update. Dabigatran (Pradaxa) for preventing stroke in people with atrial fibrillation. 2011. www.nps.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/129672/110805_08_Medicine_Update_Dabigatran_AF.pdf (accessed 14 June 2013).