Prevention of Platelet Dysfunction
Prevention of platelet dysfunction relies on screening methods involving blood work and platelet function testing in those at risk, such as patients with a strong history of venous thrombosis and pulmonary emboli, stroke, atherosclerosis, and myocardial infarction. A family history positive for platelet dysfunction is a major risk that calls for preventative measures.
Platelet dysfunction may remain dormant until the sudden appearance of venous clots or arterial plaques. Identification of those as risk is the best strategy for preventing venous, arterial, and cardiac thromboembolic disease. Those with an increased tendency toward clotting (i.e., previous thrombosis, strong family history, previous stroke, venous stasis, or atherosclerosis) may benefit from anti-platelet therapy.
Antiplatelet Therapy as Preventative Medicine
Antiplatelet therapy is used to prevent serious complications from many thrombotic and atherosclerotic conditions:
- Coronary artery disease: Especially those with stents.
- Acute coronary syndromes.
- Previous or current myocardial infarction.
- Atrial fibrillation: Which can throw clots to distal sites that can cause ischemia or tissue death (infarction) in the lungs (from the right atrium), or in the kidneys, liver, spleen, intestines, or other organs (from the left atrium).
- Carotid artery thrombosis: Ischemic stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA).
- Pre-operative or peri-operative prophylaxis against post-operative pulmonary emboli: “Mini-dose” heparin.
- Prolonged immobilization.
- Severe extremity trauma.
- Chronic deep venous thrombosis.
- Diabetics with end-organ damage.
- Disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC): An over-clotting phenomenon due to infection, trauma, hemorrhage, surgery, or pregnancy that results in exhausting all of the coagulation factors, ultimately leading to fatal hemorrhage; antiplatelet therapy is given with the intention of stopping the consumption of platelets before all of the coagulation factors are gone.