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What is Activase (alteplase)?
- heart attacks (acute myocardial infarctions),
- chest pain at rest (unstable angina),
- blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary thrombosis or embolus),
- and other less common conditions involving blood clots.
Activase is also used for clearing blood clots from blocked venous catheters.
Common side effects of Activase include:
Serious side effects of Activase include:
- significant bleeding such as into the brain (intracranial hemorrhage) or fatal bleeding,
- pulmonary embolism (PE),
- cholesterol embolism,
- abnormal heartbeats,
- allergic reactions,
- re-embolization of deep venous thrombi (DVT) during treatment of acute massive pulmonary embolism,
- and angioedema.
Drug interactions of Activase include drugs that also interfere with the body's ability to form blood clots (or the clot-promoting effects of platelets), which increase the risk of bleeding in patients receiving Activase.
Such drugs include:
Activase has been shown to cause damage to embryos of rabbits. No damage has been reported in humans. Doctors must carefully balance potential risks and possible benefits when prescribing Activase to pregnant women. It is not known whether Activase passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.
What are the important side effects of Activase (alteplase)?
The most common and serious side effect of alteplase is bleeding. Minor bleeding is more common, but significant bleeding such as into the brain (intracranial hemorrhage) or fatal bleeding also occurs.
Other important side effects include:
Other possible serious side effects include:
Activase (alteplase) side effects list for healthcare professionals
The following adverse reactions are discussed in greater detail in the other sections of the label:
- Orolingual Angioedema
- Cholesterol Embolization
- Reembolization of Deep Venous Thrombi during Treatment for Acute Massive Pulmonary Embolism
Clinical Trials Experience
Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in clinical practice.
The most frequent adverse reaction associated with Activase in all approved indications is bleeding.
Acute Ischemic Stroke (AIS)
In clinical studies in patients with AIS (Studies 1 and 2) the incidence of intracranial hemorrhage, especially symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage, was higher in Activase-treated patients than in placebo patients. A dose-finding study of Activase suggested that doses greater than 0.9 mg/kg may be associated with an increased incidence of intracranial hemorrhage.
The incidence of all-cause 90-day mortality, intracranial hemorrhage, and new ischemic stroke following Activase treatment compared to placebo are presented in Table 3 as a combined safety analysis (n=624) for Studies 1 and 2.
These data indicate a significant increase in intracranial hemorrhage following Activase treatment, particularly symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage within 36 hours. There was no increase in the incidences of 90-day mortality or severe disability in Activasetreated patients compared to placebo.
Table 3 : Combined Safety Outcomes for Studies 1 and 2
|All-Cause 90-day Mortality||64 (20.5%)||54 (17.3%)||0.36|
|Total ICH†||20 (6.4%)||48 (15.4%)||<0.01|
|Symptomatic||4 (1.3%)||25 (8.0%)||<0.01|
|Asymptomatic||16 (5.1%)||23 (7.4%)||0.32|
|Symptomatic Intracranial Hemorrhage within 36 hours||2 (0.6%)||20 (6.4%)||<0.01|
|New Ischemic Stroke (3-months)||17 (5.4%)||18 (5.8%)||1.00|
|*Fisher's Exact Test.|
†Within trial follow-up period. Symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage was defined as the occurrence of sudden clinical worsening followed by subsequent verification of intracranial hemorrhage on CT scan. Asymptomatic intracranial hemorrhage was defined as intracranial hemorrhage detected on a routine repeat CT scan without preceding clinical worsening.
Bleeding events other than intracranial hemorrhage were noted in the studies of AIS and were consistent with the general safety profile of Activase. In Studies 1 and 2, the frequency of bleeding requiring red blood cell transfusions was 6.4% for Activase-treated patients compared to 3.8% for placebo (p = 0.19).
Although exploratory analyses of Studies 1 and 2 suggest that severe neurological deficit (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale [NIHSS > 22]) at presentation was associated with an increased risk of intracranial hemorrhage, efficacy results suggest a reduced but still favorable clinical outcome for these patients.
Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI)
For the 3-hour infusion regimen in the treatment of AMI, the incidence of significant internal bleeding (estimated as > 250 mL blood loss) has been reported in studies in over 800 patients (Table 4). These data do not include patients treated with the Activase accelerated infusion.
Table 4 : Incidence of Bleeding in 3-Hour Infusion in AMI Patients
|Total Dose ≤100 mg|
The incidence of intracranial hemorrhage in AMI patients treated with Activase is presented in Table 5.
Table 5 : Incidence of Intracranial Hemorrhage in AMI Patients
|Dose||Number of Patients||Intracranial Hemorrhage (%)|
|100 mg, 3-hour||3272||0.4|
|≤ 100 mg, accelerated||10,396||0.7|
A dose of 150 mg or greater should not be used in the treatment of AMI because it has been associated with an increase in intracranial bleeding.
Pulmonary Embolism (PE)
For acute massive pulmonary embolism, bleeding events were consistent with the general safety profile observed with Activase treatment of AMI patients receiving the 3-hour infusion regimen.
Allergic-type reactions, e.g., anaphylactoid reaction, laryngeal edema, orolingual angioedema, rash, and urticaria have been reported. When such reactions occur, they usually respond to conventional therapy.
The following adverse reactions have been identified during post-approval use of Activase. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure. These reactions are frequent sequelae of the underlying disease, and the effect of Activase on the incidence of these events is unknown.
Acute Ischemic Stroke
Acute Myocardial Infarction
Arrhythmias, AV block, cardiogenic shock, heart failure, cardiac arrest, recurrent ischemia, myocardial reinfarction, myocardial rupture, electromechanical dissociation, pericardial effusion, pericarditis, mitral regurgitation, cardiac tamponade, thromboembolism, pulmonary edema. These events may be life threatening and may lead to death. Nausea and/or vomiting, hypotension and fever have also been reported.
What drugs interact with Activase (alteplase)?
The interaction of Activase with other cardioactive or cerebroactive drugs has not been studied. Anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs increase the risk of bleeding if administered prior to, during, or after Activase therapy.
In the post-marketing setting, there have been reports of orolingual angioedema in patients (primarily patients with AIS) receiving concomitant angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.
Activase (alteplase) is an enzyme used to treat conditions caused by arterial blood clots including heart attacks (acute myocardial infarctions), strokes, chest pain at rest (unstable angina), blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary thrombosis or embolus), and other less common conditions involving blood clots. Activase is also used for clearing blood clots from blocked venous catheters. Common side effects of Activase include bleeding, nausea, and vomiting. Activase has been shown to cause damage to embryos of rabbits. No damage has been reported in humans. Doctors must carefully balance potential risks and possible benefits when prescribing Activase to pregnant women. It is not known whether Activase passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.
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Pulmonary Embolism (Blood Clot in the Lung)
A pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a piece of a blood clot from deep vein thrombosis (DVT) breaks off and travels to an artery in the lung where it blocks the artery and damages the lung. The most common symptoms of a pulmonary embolism are shortness of breath, chest pain, and a rapid heart rate. Causes of pulmonary embolism include prolonged immobilization, certain medications, smoking, cancer, pregnancy, and surgery. Pulmonary embolism can cause death if not treated promptly.
Heart Attack Symptoms and Early Warning Signs
Recognizing heart attack symptoms and signs can help save your life or that of someone you love. Some heart attack symptoms, including left arm pain and chest pain, are well known but other, more nonspecific symptoms may be associated with a heart attack. Nausea, vomiting, malaise, indigestion, sweating, shortness of breath, and fatigue may signal a heart attack. Heart attack symptoms and signs in women may differ from those in men.
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Heart Attack Prevention
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Heart Attack Prevention Overview
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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.