Antiplatelet agents are medications that are mainly used to treat and prevent thromboembolic events like ischemic stroke, transient ischemic attack, and coronary artery disease or myocardial infarction, as well as in clients who underwent cardiac valve replacement or coronary angioplasty, or those with peripheral artery disease.
Now, antiplatelet medications act by preventing the activation of platelets to form a blood clot. When platelets are activated, they start binding to each other.
In addition, they release various activating substances, such as thromboxane A2 and adenosine diphosphate or ADP, to activate other platelets and make them express a new surface receptor called glycoprotein IIb/IIIa or GPIIb/IIIa.
These receptors help platelets bind to circulating proteins called fibrinogen, which helps link various platelets together.
When platelets attach to the same fibrinogen protein, they are linked together. This allows platelets to rapidly aggregate at the site of injury and form a platelet plug, which is a primary clot that can help stop the bleeding.
Based on their mechanism of action, antiplatelet medications can be divided into four groups. These include NSAIDs like acetylsalicylic acid, often referred to as aspirin; ADP receptor antagonists like clopidogrel, prasugrel, and ticagrelor; phosphodiesterase inhibitors like dipyridamole and cilostazol; and glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors like abciximab, tirofiban, and eptifibatide.