Dipyridamole is a generic medication commonly marketed under the brand name Persantine®. A doctor will prescribe it along with a blood thinning medication to avert blood clots in patients who have undergone a surgery to replace a heart valve. It is a platelet inhibitor that works by keeping the blood vessels in the heart open. Dipyridamole also helps prevent the blood's platelets from clumping and forming clots. Sometimes, a doctor will prescribe it along with aspirin for patients who have suffered a heart attack, because it may help reduce the risk of death and also prevent another heart attack from occurring.
Patients will usually take this drug four times daily. It is available as a tablet taken by mouth. Typically, it is taken on an empty stomach. Those who experience an upset stomach may take it with food if the prescribing physician approves.
Some side effects may occur with the use of dipyridamole for blood clots, which should be reported to the doctor if they are persistent or troublesome. Stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea can occur. Patients may also experience dizziness, headache, and flushing, which is the sensation of warmth. These side effects will typically lessen as the patient adjusts to the medication.
Dipyridamole may also rarely cause serious side effects, which require a doctor's immediate attention. Some patients have experienced an allergic reaction, which may be indicated by a rash, swelling, and itching. An allergic reaction may also cause trouble breathing and severe dizziness.
Other serious side effects can include chest pain, weakness on one side of the body, and slurred speech. Vision changes, confusion, and severe headache have also been reported. Dipyridamole can also cause dark urine, unusual bruising or bleeding, and yellowing of the eyes or skin. Some patients have experienced fainting, severe stomach pain, and general weakness, as well as a rapid or pounding heartbeat.
Before taking dipyridamole, patients must disclose their other medical conditions. Those who are breastfeeding should not use this drug to prevent blood clots, because it may harm a nursing infant. Women who are pregnant should discuss the potential risks with their doctors and should avoid its use whenever possible. This medication may be contraindicated for use by those who have liver disease, low blood pressure, or other heart problems, such as severe coronary artery disease.
Other medications may interact with dipyridamole. Patients must discuss their use of aspirin with their doctors. It may interact with blood thinners and any other drugs that can affect the platelets, such as lepirudin and ticlopidine. Valproic acid, neostigmine, and adenosine may also interact with dipyridamole.