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Difference Between Thrombolytic and Antiplatelet

Anticoagulants are substances that stop clots from being made while the fibrinolytics work to break down clots that have already been formed.

What is Thrombolytic?


A thrombolytic is a drug that causes a blood clot to dissolve.

How thrombolytics work:

Thrombolytics are based on how blood clots are formed and broken apart naturally in the blood. The thrombolytic drug is designed to increase plasminogen in the body and this is the substance that transforms into plasmin. Plasmin actually breaks bonds in fibrin and it is the fibrin that forms a major component of a blood clot.


Thrombolytics are used to dissolve dangerous clots that may have formed in the brain, heart, or blood vessels elsewhere in the body. Blood clots block the supply of oxygen to the tissues causing tissue death. This can cause heart attacks or strokes depending on where the clot forms.


There can be dangerous side effects of some drugs used for thrombolytic therapy. Such adverse effects include hemorrhage and allergic reactions such as hives and swelling.


Examples of thrombolytics include the medications alteplase, TNKase, t-PA, and eminase.

What is Antiplatelet?


An antiplatelet is a drug that stops platelets from combining together to form a clot.

How antiplatelets work:

Antiplatelets work to prevent platelet accumulation by interfering with the process by which the platelets come together. Some medicine such as aspirin actually impedes the activity of thromboxane, a hormone important in platelet aggregation.


These medications can be used to reduce the likelihood of clots being formed. Some antiplatelets like aspirin can also be used to help decrease the inflammation of blood vessels along with reducing blood clots.


There are some disadvantages to having antiplatelet therapy. Such medicine can cause excessive bleeding and in some cases nausea, diarrhea, and aplastic anemia. A rare clotting disorder known as thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura is also a potential side effect of some of these medicines.


Aspirin, clopidogrel, ticlopidine, and dipyridamole are examples of antiplatelet medicine that is used.

Difference between Thrombolytic and Antiplatelet?


A thrombolytic works to dissolve clots that exist. An antiplatelet stops the platelets  from coming together to produce a clot.

Mechanism of action

The mechanism of action of a thrombolytic is that it breaks down clots by splitting fibrin molecules by increasing plasminogen. The mechanism of action of an antiplatelet is it interferes at the molecular level, with the binding capability of platelets.


A benefit of thrombolytic medicine is very helpful for dissolving a clot that is blocking a blood vessel, which is important in people who are having a stroke or heart attack, as a result of a clot. A benefit of antiplatelet medicine is that it greatly decreases the chance of a clot forming in people who are at high risk.


The downsides to thrombolytics are that there can be side effects such as allergic reactions and excess bleeding. The downsides to antiplatelets are bleeding and horrible side effects like diarrhea, nausea, and aplastic anemia.


Examples of thrombolytic medications include alteplase, TNKase, t-PA, and eminase. Examples of antiplatelet medications include aspirin as well as prescription drugs such as clopidogrel, ticlopidine, and dipyridamole.

Table comparing Thrombolytic and Antiplatelet

Summary of Thrombolytic and Antiplatelet

  • Thrombolytic and antiplatelet medications are both useful for people who have a tendency to produce clots that block blood vessels.
  • Thrombolytic work to lyse the fibrin that forms a clot.
  • Antiplatelets focus on preventing platelets from coming together to produce a clot.
  • Both antiplatelets and thrombolytics need to be used carefully because they can have serious side effects.


What is the difference between antiplatelet and antithrombotic?

An antiplatelet is a medicine that specifically targets the accumulation of platelets during clot formation and interferes with this process. An antithrombotic is a term used to describe any medicine that helps hinder clot formation regardless of how it works. Many scientists consider antiplatelets to be a specific type of antithrombotic medicine.

What is the difference between anticoagulant and thrombolytic?

An anticoagulant medication functions to prevent a clot from being produced. A thrombolytic works to break down (lyse) an already existing blood clot.

What is the difference between blood thinner and antiplatelet?

Blood thinners act differently to antiplatelets when used for people with clotting problems. A blood thinner actually impacts the clotting factors of the blood while an antiplatelet focuses on the platelets and stops these from sticking together.

What is the difference between fibrinolytic and antiplatelet drugs?

A fibrinolytic is a drug that interferes with the plasmin and fibrin interaction that occurs. It actually increases plasmin which acts to break apart fibrin molecules. An antiplatelet specifically works to stop platelet aggregation, which is an important part of clot formation.

Is aspirin an antithrombotic?

Aspirin is a specific type of antithrombotic that interferes with the platelets.

What are examples of antiplatelets?

Examples of antiplatelets include aspirin (main ingredient salicylic acid), as well as the drugs clopidogrel, ticlopidine, and dipyridamole.

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References :

[0]Born, Gustav, and Carlo Patrono. "Antiplatelet drugs." British journal of pharmacology 147.Suppl 1 (2006): S241.

[1]Lapchak, Paul A. "Development of thrombolytic therapy for stroke: a perspective." Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs 11.11 (2002): 1623-1632.

[2]Minno, Matteo Nicola Dario Di, et al. "Overcoming limitations of current antiplatelet drugs: a concerted effort for more profitable strategies of intervention." Annals of medicine 43.7 (2011): 531-544.

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