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Study Shows Risk of Delaying Blood Thinners

Many people don't start taking prescribed blood thinners right away after getting a stent inserted in an artery near the heart. And those who delay are more likely to have heart attacks and die, a new study shows. Stents are tiny metal mesh tubes. They are placed inside narrowed arteries that are opened with balloon angioplasty. The stents help keep the arteries open. People need to take blood thinners for a month to a year after receiving a stent. This helps to prevent heart attacks during healing. Researchers looked at records for more than 15,600 people who had stents placed. About 30% did not fill their prescriptions for the blood thinner clopidogrel (Plavix or generics) within 3 days of hospital discharge. In the 30 days after discharge, they were 3 times as likely to have heart attacks as people who started taking the medicines right away.

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