A new study has found that ordinary aspirin works just as well as Plavix in preventing blood clots in people with clogged arteries in their legs. According to a report from HealthDay News, aspirin was not thought to be a good option for patients with this condition, known as peripheral artery disease, because animal studies had indicated aspirin could block the growth of blood vessels that would help get more blood to leg tissue.
“Either aspirin or Plavix is acceptable as a good preventive measure to avoid heart attack or stroke in these patients,” Dr. Juan Zambrano, an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine, coronary/endovascular and stem cell therapies at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, told HealthDay News. “A lot of people favor aspirin because it’s cheaper.”
The study was conducted by researchers in Germany and Switzerland, and was published this week in the journal Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Disease. It involved 229 patients who were randomly assigned either low-dose aspirin or Plavix. The efficacy of the drugs was compared by gauging how far and long patients could travel pain-free on one hour walks. Pain while walking is a common complaint of people with peripheral artery disease, and walking is a vital part of rehabilitation for those with the condition, HealthDay News explained.
In 12 weeks, aspirin patients in the study improved pain-free walking distance almost 40 percent and could walk 35 percent longer before pain made it too hard to continue. The Plavix group experienced a 33 percent improvement in walking distance and an almost 35 improvement in pain-free walking time.
“It seems that the anti-inflammatory properties of low-dose aspirin and its inhibiting effects on [the growth of new blood vessels] are not of clinical relevance for rehabilitation programs in intermittent claudication,” the researchers concluded.
Plavix has been one of the top-selling prescription drugs in the U.S. since it first hit the market in 1997 and has generated billions of dollars in revenue for its makers. As we’ve reported in the past, the makers of Plavix claim it is more effective than regular aspirin in the prevention of heart attack and stroke caused by blood clots. It is often prescribed with a low dose of aspirin to reduce the risk of these complications.
However, Plavix has also been linked to serious side effects, including gastrointestinal bleeding, cerebral hemorrhaging, heart attacks, strokes and death at an increasingly alarming rate after beginning treatment with Plavix. Another complications reported among people taking Plavix include Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP), a condition which is marked by small clots through the entire circulatory system.
Plavix is also the subject of lawsuits alleging its makers failed to adequately research the medication or warn about the risk of Plavix side effects. The plaintiffs in Plavix lawsuits claim the drug’s benefits were overstated, and that it is no better a blood thinner than aspirin, but carries more side effects. Lawsuits also allege that Plavix users have suffered from serious side effects, including gastrointestinal bleeding, severe ulcers, heart attacks, strokes and TTP.