Antiplatelets prevent the formation of blood clots in arteries. Blood clots in the arteries of the heart and the brain can cause a heart attack or stroke.
Although antiplatelets are often referred to as blood thinners, they don't actually allow your blood to flow more freely through your vessels.
Aspirin is the most common antiplatelet medicine. The dose of aspirin to prevent blood clots is a lot lower than the dose used for pain relief. Taking a higher dose of aspirin does not make it any more effective, but it does increase the risk of side effects. Therefore, stick to the dose recommended by your doctor.
Most people do not have any side effects with low dose aspirin. The benefits of taking aspirin usually outweigh the small risk of developing side effects. The most serious possible side effects, which only affect a small number of people, include stomach irritation or bleeding and rarely aspirin allergy.
Newer antiplatelet medicines, such as clopidogrel, may cause less stomach irritation.
To reduce the risk of stomach irritation it is best to take antiplatelet medicines with or after food.
If you take low-dose aspirin to prevent blood clots and you need to take painkillers (for example, for headaches) it is best to take paracetamol rather than a higher dose of aspirin.