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How does the Brilinta medication work? What will it do for me?

Ticagrelor belongs to the group of medications called platelet aggregation inhibitors or antiplatelet agents. It is usually used along with acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) after a heart attack or if you have angina (chest pain) to help prevent a stroke, another heart attack, or dying from heart disease. It works by stopping the clumping of platelets in the blood. Platelets are small fragments in blood that clump together to stop bleeding when there is damage to a blood vessel. Clots can also develop inside a damaged blood vessel and cause a stroke or heart attack.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does the Brilinta medication come in?

Each round, biconvex, yellow, film-coated tablet, marked with "90" over "T" on one side and plain on the reverse side, contains 90 mg of ticagrelor. Nonmedicinal ingredients: dibasic calcium phosphate, ferric oxide yellow, hydroxypropyl cellulose, hypromellose, magnesium stearate, mannitol, polyethylene glycol 400, sodium starch glycolate, talc, and titanium dioxide.

How should I use the Brilinta medication?

The usual starting dose of ticagrelor is 180 mg (two 90 mg tablets) for one dose, then 90 mg twice a day.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

Ticagrelor may be taken with or without food and should be swallowed whole with water. If you are taking this medication, you probably will also be taking 75 mg to 150 mg of acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) daily.

It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take the Brilinta medication?

Do not take this medication if you:

  • are allergic to ticagrelor or any ingredients of this medication
  • are taking medications known as strong CYP3A4 inhibitors, such as ketoconazole, clarithromycin, nefazodone, ritonavir, and atazanavir
  • have had a stroke caused by bleeding in the brain
  • have moderately to severely reduced liver function
  • have problems with bleeding (e.g., stomach or intestinal ulcer, bleeding in the brain)

What side effects are possible with the Brilinta medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • abdominal pain
  • constipation
  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • heartburn
  • itching
  • muscle weakness
  • nausea
  • spinning sensations
  • tingling feeling
  • trouble sleeping
  • vomiting

Although most of the side effects listed below don’t happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • anxiety
  • chest pain
  • confusion
  • fainting
  • fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat
  • shortness of breath
  • signs of anemia (low red blood cells; e.g., dizziness,  pale skin, unusual tiredness or weakness, shortness of breath)
  • signs of bleeding (e.g., black and tarry stools, blood in urine, nosebleeds, blood in your eye) or unusual bruising
  • signs of gout (e.g., joint pain, swelling and warmth of joints)
  • skin rash
  • stomach inflammation
  • swelling of legs or ankles
  • symptoms of heart failure (e.g., shortness of breath; cough; needing extra pillows to breathe at night; swelling of the feet, ankles, or lower legs)
  • symptoms of high blood pressure in the lungs (e.g., shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue, racing pulse)
  • symptoms of kidney stones (e.g., painful urination, pain in side and back, below the ribs)
  • symptoms of low blood pressure (e.g., dizziness, lightheadedness, blurred vision)
  • symptoms of lung fibrosis (e.g., shortness of breath, dry cough, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, aching joints and muscles)

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • signs of bleeding in the stomach (e.g., bloody, black, or  tarry stools, spitting up of blood, vomiting blood or material that looks like coffee grounds)
  • symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (e.g., hives; difficulty breathing; or swelling of the face, mouth, tongue, or throat)
  • symptoms of a stroke (e.g., sudden dizziness, numbness, weakness, vision changes, headache, difficulty speaking, difficulty walking)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for the Brilinta medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

ASA dose: This medication is usually used along with low doses of acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) unless there is a reason you should not take ASA. The dose of ASA should not be greater than 150 mg daily.

Bleeding: Ticagrelor can increase your risk of bleeding. If you are at risk of bleeding (e.g., have had recent trauma, surgery, dental procedures, bleeding in the stomach or intestines, reduced liver function) or are taking any medications that increase your risk of bleeding (e.g., blood thinners, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication), discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Tell your doctor of any signs that your blood is not clotting as quickly as usual. Such symptoms may include black and tarry stools, blood in the urine, easy bruising, or cuts that won’t stop bleeding.

Breathing Problems: Ticagrelor can cause shortness of breath in some people. It is usually mild to moderate and typically gets better as your body adjusts to the medication. If you have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Dizziness/reduced alertness: Ticagrelor may affect the mental or physical abilities needed to drive or operate machinery. Avoid driving, operating machinery, or performing other hazardous tasks until you have determined how this medication affects you.

Grapefruit juice: Grapefruit juice affects how ticagrelor is removed from the body and may cause too much of the medication to build up in the body, possibly causing harmful side effects. Do not drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit at any time while taking this medication.

Heart rhythm: This medication may cause changes in heart rhythm. If you have certain abnormal heart rhythms (e.g., sick sinus syndrome, 2nd- or 3rd-degree heart block, or fainting because of a slow heartbeat, and do not have a pacemaker) or are taking medication that slows the heart rate (e.g., atenolol, diltiazem, verapamil, metoprolol), discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

High uric acid levels and gout: Ticagrelor may cause an increase in the amount of uric acid in the blood. If you have or have had high uric acid blood levels or gout, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

If you develop painful, warm, and swollen joints or difficulty with urination, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Kidney function: If you are receiving dialysis, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Liver function: Ticagrelor is broken down by the liver so it can be removed from the body. Liver disease or reduced liver function may cause a build-up of ticagrelor in the body and cause side effects. If you have liver disease or decreased liver function, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

If you have moderately to severely reduced liver function, you should not take this medication.

Stopping medication: If you stop this medication, you will be at an increased risk of having a stroke or heart attack. If your doctor suggests stopping this medication temporarily because of side effects, it should be restarted as soon as the risk of the side effect is less than the risk of not taking the medication.

Surgery: If you have elective (planned) surgery, your doctor will tell you when to stop taking this medication before the surgery.

Pregnancy: The safety of using this medication during pregnancy has not been established. If you could become pregnant while taking this medication, use appropriate contraception to prevent pregnancy.

This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if ticagrelor passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children and adolescents less than 18 years of age.

What other drugs could interact with the Brilinta medication?

There may be an interaction between ticagrelor and any of the following:

  • acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) at doses more than 150 mg daily
  • apixaban
  • aprepitant
  • "azole" antifungals (e.g., itraconazole, ketoconazole, voriconazole)
  • bismuth subsalicylate
  • boceprevir
  • bosentan
  • carbamazepine
  • celecoxib
  • cobicistat
  • conivaptan
  • cyclosporine
  • dabigatran
  • dabrafenib
  • dasatinib
  • deferasirox
  • digoxin
  • diltiazem
  • dofetilide
  • edoxaban
  • enzalutamide
  • glucosamine
  • grapefruit juice
  • heparin
  • herbal products that affect bleeding (e.g., dong quai, evening primrose, feverfew, garlic, ginger, St John’s wort)
  • HIV non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs; e.g., delavirdine, efavirenz, etravirine, nevirapine)
  • HIV protease inhibitors (e.g., atazanavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir)
  • ibrutinib
  • lomitapide
  • low molecular weight heparins (LMWHs; e.g., dalteparin, enoxaparin)
  • macrolide antibiotics (e.g., clarithromycin, erythromycin, telithromycin)
  • multivitamins
  • narcotic pain relievers (e.g., codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone)
  • nefazodone
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication- NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen, ketoprofen, naproxen)
  • nefazodone
  • obinutuzumab
  • omega-3-fatty acids
  • oxcarbazepine
  • pentoxifylline
  • phenobarbital
  • phenytoin
  • pimozide
  • prasugrel
  • primidone
  • rifabutin
  • rifampin
  • rivaroxaban
  • St. John’s wort
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs; e.g., fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, sertraline)
  • "statin" anti-cholesterol medications (e.g., atorvastatin, lovastatin, simvastatin)
  • tocilizumab
  • tranexamic acid
  • verapamil
  • vitamin E
  • warfarin

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.

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