When a blood vessel is cut or damaged, blood loss needs to be stopped. This happens through coagula...
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When a blood vessel is cut or damaged, blood loss needs to be stopped. This happens through coagulation or clotting of blood to form a plug. Clotting begins when cell fragments called platelets circulating in your blood begin to clump or stick together. This is called platelet aggregation. The clumps of platelets are held together by a network of protein molecules called fibrin activated by clotting factors in your blood. A blood clot is made up of fibrin and clumps of platelets. Antiplatelet drugs prevent clumping of platelets. Millions of people take them to prevent inappropriate or dangerous clotting that can block blood flow and cause a stroke or heart attack. They are used to treat a variety of conditions. For example, they can prevent blood clots in an artery clogged with plaque. Antiplatelet drugs are also a very important part of care after placement of a stent to restore free blood flow through a clogged artery. Sometimes stents can become blocked with scar tissue. This is called restenosis. Some stents are coated with medicine to help prevent this. Blood flow is also occasionally blocked when platelets attracted to the stent site and healing process form blood clots. This is called thrombosis; it can cause a potentially fatal heart attack or necessitate a repeat procedure. Antiplatelet drugs help to keep these clots from forming. Different antiplatelet drugs work in different ways. They need to be taken for as long as your doctor directs. Don't stop them without permission of the doctor who prescribed them.