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Emergency Medical Minute


Apr 27, 2020

Contributor: Don Stader, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • When do we give antiplatelet drugs or anti-coagulation drugs?
    • Arterial issues get antiplatelet therapy
    • Venous issues, or slow flow states, get anticoagulation therapy.
  • High flow areas (arteries) are more prone to platelet clotting while the venous system is more prone to allowing blockages caused by coagulation factors.
  • The main side effect with antiplatelet and anticoagulants is bleeding. Typically antiplatelet drugs cause more bleeding issues because platelets are made in the bone marrow, while coagulation factors are made in the liver, so it takes longer for the bone marrow to replete platelets versus the liver which is a fast synthesizer of clotting factors.   
  • Reversal of antiplatelet drugs can take a while, so patients on these drugs (ex. Plavix) may need a week of withholding the drug to get surgery, while anti-coagulation drugs (ex. Xarelto) can be stopped a day or two prior to surgery.


1. Altiok, E. Marx, N. Oral Anticoagulation: Update on Anticoagulation With Vitamin K Antagonists and Non–Vitamin K–Dependent Oral Anticoagulants. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2018 Nov; 115(46): 776–783. Published online 2018 Nov 16. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2018.0776

2. Kapil, N. Et al. Antiplatelet and Anticoagulant Therapies for Prevention of Ischemic Stroke.

Clin Appl Thromb Hemost. 2017 May;23(4):301-318. doi: 10.1177/1076029616660762. Epub 2016 Jul 26.

3. Ostergaard, L. Fosbol EL. Roe MT. The Role of Antiplatelet Therapy in Primary Prevention. A Review. Curr Pharm Des. 2017;23(9):1294-1306. doi: 10.2174/1381612822666161205115540.


Summarized by Jackson Roos, MS3 | Edited by Erik Verzemnieks, MD