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The Question Still Arises - How Long Should I take Plavix after Coronary Artery Stent Placement?

Written by:

Hector Fontanet, M.D., FACC

Joan Stelzner, ARNP

Plavix (Clopidogrel) is a medication that is given to patients, along with aspirin, following coronary artery stent placement to prevent blood clot formation on the newly implanted stent. Currently, there is controversy regarding the optimal length of Plavix therapy following coronary artery stenting.  Since there are two types of stents, drug-eluting stents (stents coated with a medication designed to prevent re-narrowing of the stented blood vessel as the body heals) and bare metal stents (stents without any coating) there are also two different recommendations regarding length of Plavix therapy.


The American Heart Association in conjunction with the American College of Cardiology issued a statement published in the January 15, 2007 issue of Circulation regarding length of Plavix therapy following coronary artery stenting. The recommendation for Plavix therapy following drug-eluting stent (coated stent) placement is currently one full year.  For bare metal stents (non-coated stents), the recommendation for Plavix is at least one month. In other words, if you have received a drug eluting stent, continue Plavix for one year. If you receive a bare metal stent, do not stop taking Plavix for at least one month after implant.


Additionally, patients should never stop Plavix without first checking with their cardiologist and/or cardiology care provider.  Interrupting Plavix therapy prematurely can lead to clot formation on the stent resulting in heart attack or even death.


In certain situations, Plavix therapy may need to be interrupted before the recommended length of therapy has been completed.  These situations, however, are rare and only your cardiologist and/or cardiology care provider should make this determination on your behalf.