Enhanced Verifiable CPD from the
University of Birmingham

Anticoagulants and dentistry

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Blood clots consist mainly of a protein called fibrin, and of platelets that have clumped together in the fibrin mat.

  • Anticoagulant drugs prevent the creation of fibrin.

  • Antiplatelet drugs prevent the clumping of platelets.

Anticoagulant drugs

Anticoagulants are used mainly to prevent blood clot formation in people with conditions that make it more likely for blood clots to develop in their body, like people with artificial aortic heart valves, or people with atrial fibrillation.

They are also sometimes used as treatment to dissolve existing blood clots, for example DVTs (Deep Vein Thrombosis), which often happen unexpectedly.

They are also used preventively in patients who are known to be at risk of developing a DVT – for example patients who will be immobile for a period after hip or knee replacements, or people who are long-term bed-bound.

Antiplatelet drugs

Platelets play a very important role in clot formation, by aggregating and sticking together inside the mat of Fibrin. Platelet aggregation is the key factor in the development of coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular accidents and peripheral arterial disease.

Antiplatelet therapy plays a very important role in preventing recurrence or worsening of these conditions. Until recently, aspirin and clopidogrel were the only antiplatelet drugs available. However, newer and more potent agents like prasugrel and ticagrelor and also the glycoprotein IIb/IIIa antagonists have become available.

Patients with stents or metal heart valves usually take antiplatelets.

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