Angiomax® is a prescription medication used to thin the blood and prevent clotting. It is most commonly given before, during, and immediately after surgical procedures to repair or replace damaged blood vessels. Patients who undergo coronary angioplasties or similar procedures are at a significantly decreased risk of post-surgical complications when Angiomax® is administered beforehand. The medication can cause potentially serious side effects, so constant monitoring by healthcare professionals is vital during treatment to make sure major problems do not arise. Most people respond well to the drug and are able to recover from their surgeries in a matter of days or weeks.
The active ingredient in Angiomax®, bivalirudin, is classified as a direct thrombin inhibitor. Thrombin is a blood component that aids in clotting when it binds to specific receptor sites in blood vessels. When bivalirudin is introduced into the bloodstream, it selectively binds to thrombin molecules and prevents them from starting the clotting response. Angiomax® is often used in combination with aspirin to maximize its blood-thinning effects during surgical procedures to correct blood vessel problems.
Angiomax® is administered in carefully-measured dosages by a doctor or trained nurse before a surgical procedure. The proper dosage amount is calculated based on the patient's weight and his or her specific health condition. The drug may be injected directly into the bloodstream with a syringe or given through an intravenous line with other fluids and medications. A slow-drip infusion is usually started immediately after a successful surgery and continued for four to 20 hours to help prevent clotting complications.
A patient may experience side effects from Angiomax® injections or infusions. Common problems include nausea, vomiting, minor headaches, and skin irritation at the site of the injection. Occasionally, the drug can induce chest pains, increase heart rate, or cause uncontrollable bleeding from the nose or surgical wounds. Allergic reactions that cause skin hives and breathing difficulties are rare but possible. Careful monitoring is important to recognize unusual reactions and side effects early before they become serious, life-threatening complications.
After surgery and treatment with Angiomax®, a patient may need to stay in the hospital for several days for ongoing monitoring and treatment. He or she may be advised to take aspirin or another blood-thinning agent on a regular schedule after leaving the hospital to help prevent future clotting problems. Full recoveries are more likely when patients follow their doctors' recommendations about diet, exercise, and ongoing medication use.