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Cardiovascular disease is one of the most commonly diagnosed ailments in American medicine—and it is the leading cause of death. According to statistical reports compiled by the Center for Disease control, more than 26 million people suffer from some form of heart disease.

Plavix—Bristol-Myers Squibb’s version of clopidogrel—is one of the leading drugs prescribed to treat heart disease. It acts to prevent blood clots in both the heart and the brain. Clotting is what often leads to heart attack or stroke in cardiovascular disease sufferers.

The drug has some potentially serious side effects—gastrointestinal and cerebral hemorrhaging, low white blood cell count and other bleeding—but those problems are comparatively rare. Other common and less serious side effects include gastrointestinal discomfort (in approximately 30 percent of patients), ulcers, rash and chest pain.

Physicians recommend a thorough annual physical along with regular blood work to identify cardiovascular disease in its early stages, where it can be more easily treated with lifestyle changes (diet, exercise) and medication.

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