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What Is Aminocaproic Acid?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 19 February 2018
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Aminocaproic acid is a medication available for the management of excessive bleeding, particularly after surgery or trauma like placental abruption, where the placenta detaches prematurely during pregnancy. The medication will act to limit bleeding, although the patient may still need infusions of blood and other medications to get the situation under control. It comes in a number of forms, including tablets and solutions for injection in a hospital setting.

This medication is an anti-fibrinolytic. In ordinary conditions, patients will produce compounds to facilitate fibrinolysis, where blood clots are broken down into components for recycling. Sometimes this process moves too quickly, and the breakdown of clots facilitates rapid bleeding that can be very difficult to control. Instead of limiting bleeding and sealing holes in the body, the clots pull apart. Drugs like aminocaproic acid prevent fibrinolysis and help patients retain blood.

In a patient with a history of bleeding problems, a doctor may recommend using this medication before, during, and immediately after surgery in a preemptive strike on postoperative bleeding. Aminocaproic acid starts working very quickly once it enters the body, and it can prevent excessive bleeding. This will help care providers control the patient's blood pressure and reduces the need for blood transfusions. Transfusions can put patients at risk of transmissible diseases the blood bank may not catch, or can be a cause for concern when a patient has a rare blood type and it may be hard to get a match.

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Other cases may involve retroactive prescription of aminocaproic acid to address uncontrolled bleeding. This can occur as a surgical complication in a patient without any warning, and rapid action is necessary to prevent excessive blood loss. If the patient loses too much blood, he can go into shock and may develop severe complications, eventually leading to death due to inadequate oxygenation and subsequent organ and tissue damage. Other anti-fibrinolytic drugs are available as well in the event that aminocaproic acid is not appropriate for a patient.

This drug can cause stomach upset, faintness, and dizziness. Patients are often in a hospital setting when they receive it because they are there for surgery, and care providers can act quickly to address any side effects of concern. In cases where patients at home start to experience side effects, they should call their doctors. The doctor may simply recommend resting at home for several hours and taking a conservative wait-and-see approach, rather than offering immediate interventions.

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