Taking stroke prevention medication can be a positive and possibly life-saving step in managing your personal health. By knowing the medications that are available, how to reduce bleeding risks and the dangers of specific medications, you can begin treatment fully informed rather than experiencing side effects unprepared.

Know what Types of Medication are available

Three main categories of medication can help to prevent strokes. For patients who have experienced a stroke in the past, stroke prevention medication can be vital, as it can assist in avoiding second strokes that are typically more severe and can be fatal.

• Antihypertensives – By reducing blood pressure, these lower the risk of both ischaemic (involving blocked arteries) and haemorrhagic strokes (involving bleeding in the brain). Micardis, Hyzaar and Cozaar are common antihypertensives.

• Antiplatelet agents—By stopping blood cells from sticking together, these prevent blood clots from forming. These are recommended for ischaemic strokes. Aspirin, Plavix and Dipyridamole are common antiplatelet agents.

• Anticoagulant—By thinning the blood, these both reduce the risk of blood clots forming and prevent existing blood clots from getting bigger. Warfarin, Xarelto and Pradaxa are common anticoagulants.

Know how to reduce Anticoagulant Bleeding Risks

People who use anticoagulants, also known as blood thinners, are vulnerable to injuries that can quickly escalate and become uncontrollable bleeding events. Because the body’s natural ability to clot – slowing and stopping bleeding—is impaired, even minor accidents and cuts can become health hazards. Therefore it’s important for anyone taking these drugs to take extra precautions to avoid indoor and outdoor injuries.

Indoor Hazards

• Work slowly and in good lighting when using scissors, knives, razors or anything with an exposed blade. Wear shoes or slippers in the house to avoid falls and bumping feet. Protect gums by using toothbrushes with soft bristles and refraining from toothpick use.

Outdoor Hazards

• Wear shoes that sufficiently protect feet. For example, for yard work opt for sneakers instead of sandals. Put on safety gloves before working with sharp tools or gardening. Refrain from participating in intense sports or activities that can cause injuries.

Know the Risks involved with Pradaxa

One popular blood thinner, Pradaxa, has been associated with serious side effects such as bleeding events and heart problems. While there are available bleeding antidotes for Warfarin, another blood thinner, there is no antidote for Pradaxa. In fact, more than 500 people have died after taking Pradaxa, and their families have filed lawsuits. In addition to Pradaxa, there is also no bleeding antidote for Xarelto.

The heart risks linked to Pradaxa were discovered in studies published through the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and Cleveland Clinic. The first study found that those taking Pradaxa were more likely to have heart attacks than those taking Warfarin. The second study found that those taking Pradaxa, also compared to Warfarin use, had a 33 percent increased risk of heart attack or symptoms of heart disease.

Alanna Ritchie writes about dangerous prescription drugs and medical devices for Drugwatch.com.