Integrilin®, also known as eptifibatide, is a medication used to treat patients at risk for or who have experienced heart attack or stroke. The medication, administered intravenously, works by breaking up blood clots. Due to the medication's possible side effects, a physician will only administer Integrilin® to hospitalized patients. Some patients cannot take the mediation for a variety of health reasons. For those treated successfully, maintaining one's health may depend on a daily aspirin regimen and other lifestyle changes.
Integrilin® prevents blood clots by binding to platelets in the bloodstream. The bound platelets lose their ability to clump together and already clumped platelets break apart. The medication is commonly used in conjunction with heparin to dissolve blood clots that have already caused or may cause heart attack and stroke. If the patient is capable of taking oral medication, aspirin becomes a third option used to lower the short-term chances of a heart attack or stroke.
Due to possible life-threatening side effects, physicians will only administer this medication to hospitalized patients. As the medication makes platelets virtually ineffective, a small cut or internal injury could cause uncontrolled bleeding. A hospital provides a controlled environment where physicians can quickly administer treatment if internal or external bleeding should occur. To further reduce the risks of uncontrolled bleeding, Integrilin® affects platelets for only two and half hours. Close monitoring is necessary during this time to ensure patients' safety.
Some patients' previous or current health conditions can disqualify Integrilin® as a treatment option. A low platelet count makes the medication ineffective. Another example are patients with past or present kidney disease or failure; this is a primary concern of physicians as Integrilin® is excreted through the urine. Patients under the age of 18 cannot take the medication. Only in the most serious cases will physicians administer Integrilin® to pregnant women; the medication causes serious birth defects to unborn children.
Patients treated with Integrilin® may face serious lifestyle changes once they leave the hospital. These changes are not due to the medication itself, but because patients face a higher risk of heart attack or stroke for the rest of their lives. For example, better eating habits and exercise may be required for patients recovering from a heart attack. Other patients may have to abstain from physical activity due to a prescription for blood thinners. Despite individual differences, the vast majority of recovering patients can expect to follow a daily aspirin regimen to maintain their cardiovascular health.