Clot Busters

Your Care Explained > Medications : Clot Busters

Clot busters, medically known as thrombolytics, are used to dissolve blood clots that form in the heart, blood vessels or lungs, especially during a heart attack.

Although clot busters are equally effective in women and men, women with stroke symptoms have been less likely to get them than men.

Clinical trials at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have demonstrated that thrombolytic therapy can significantly improve everyone’s chances of survival following a heart attack.

How Clot Busters Work

Clot busters are a group of drugs including urokinase, tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) and reteplase, which stimulate the extra production of plasmin, a substance in the blood that breaks down fibrin, the major constituent of blood clots. Normally, plasmin breaks down clots once they have served their purpose in halting bleeding. The extra dose of plasmin causes the breakdown of newly formed clots.

Receiving Clot Busters

The medications are administered intravenously in an emergency room as soon as possible during a heart attack or thrombotic stroke. Removing the obstructive blood clot allows blood to flow back into the cells, minimizing heart or brain damage.

Special Considerations

Clot busters can make you bleed more easily for several days after administration. You may need bed rest to minimize the risk of bleeding. Do not take aspirin, ibuprofen or other nonprescription pain relievers during this period unless otherwise instructed by your prescriber or healthcare professional.

Date Last Modified: January 21, 2011

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