Abciximab is an anticoagulant medication a surgeon may prescribe for a patient undergoing procedures on the coronary arteries to reduce the risk of complications. This medication prevents clot formation, limiting the chances of developing an obstruction in or around the coronary arteries. The patient receives the drug in a clinical setting before the procedure starts and will usually get an intravenous drip of the medication after the surgery to keep clot formation minimal in the first day.
This drug is a platelet aggregation inhibitor. It works by preventing platelets from sticking to each other. Depending on the case, the patient may receive the first injection anywhere from 24 hours to 10 minutes before surgery. This medication can change bleeding times for several days after surgery even after it is withdrawn. Doctors calculate the timing and dose carefully to provide the most benefits to the patient, while minimizing risks associated with anticoagulants.
Patients on this medication can experience dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and leg pain. Abciximab also makes patients more susceptible to bruising and internal bleeding. People who develop dark stools or vomit, or who notice fresh blood, should report this to a doctor immediately. Individuals with a history of internal bleeding, spine or head trauma, or clotting disorders may not be good candidates for abciximab therapy, as the risks could be too high for them.
It is possible to experience severe complications by taking multiple anticoagulant medications, or failing to allow one medication to clear before starting another. When a patient is preparing for a procedure and a doctor recommends abciximab, the patient should provide the doctor with a complete list of all medications being taken so the doctor can check for contraindications or potentially dangerous interactions. The doctor may recommend temporarily stopping some drugs for safety, or can adjust the surgical plans to keep the patient safe.
Patients who have recently received a dose of abciximab should be careful about activities where bleeding and bruising can occur. It is advisable to avoid elective surgical procedures, as well as things like tooth cleanings, because cuts will bleed freely and transfusing new platelets will not necessarily solve the problem, as the medication can bind to them and prevent them from clotting. In emergency situations where lifesaving surgical procedures are necessary, the surgical team should be made aware of the patient's recent dose of anticoagulants so they can proceed with caution and monitor the patient with care throughout the procedure.