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ANTICOAGULANTS


Also called: ‘Anti-platelet drugs.





Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.

Anticoagulants are medicines that help prevent blood clots. They're given to people at a high risk of getting clots, to reduce their chances of developing serious conditions such as strokes and heart attacks.


A blood clot is a seal created by the blood to stop bleeding from wounds. While they're useful in stopping bleeding, they can block blood vessels and stop blood flowing to organs such as the brain, heart or lungs if they form in the wrong place.


Anticoagulants work by interrupting the process involved in the formation of blood clots. They're sometimes called "blood-thinning" medicines, although they don't actually make the blood thinner.


Who needs blood thinners?

You may need a blood thinner if you have:

Different types of blood thinners

There are different types of blood thinners:

  • Anticoagulants, such as heparin or warfarin (also called Coumadin), slow down your body's process of making clots.

  • Antiplatelets, such as aspirin and clopidogrel, prevent blood cells called platelets from clumping together to form a clot. Antiplatelets are mainly taken by people who have had a heart attack or stroke.

Safety of blood thinners

When you take a blood thinner, follow the directions carefully. Blood thinners may interact with certain foods, medicines, vitamins, and alcohol. Make sure that your health care provider knows all of the medicines and supplements you are using.


Because you are taking a blood thinner, you should try not to hurt yourself and cause bleeding. You need to be careful when you use knives, scissors, razors, or any sharp object that can make you bleed. You also need to avoid activities and sports that could cause injury. Swimming and walking are usually safe activities


You may need regular blood tests to check how well your blood is clotting. It is important to make sure that you're taking enough medicine to prevent clots, but not so much that it causes bleeding.


Blood clots can occur anywhere in the body. The symptoms of a blood clot depend on where they are. A clot blocking blood flow to the brain can lead to a stroke. Strokes can cause sudden difficulty seeing, speaking, or walking. The also can make you feel weak, numb, dizzy, or confused.


A clot that blocks blood flow to the heart can cause a heart attack. The most common signs are crushing chest pain and difficulty breathing. Other range from cold sweat to arm and shoulder pain.


A clot in the lungs can cause shortness of breath, pain when breathing deeply, or even coughing up blood. A clot in a vein deep within the body is called a deep vein thrombosis, or DTV. Symptoms include swelling, pain, warmth, or red or discolored skin. These usually happen in your legs due to periods of inactivity, which can increase your risk. Others range from cold sweats to arm or shoulder pain.


Side effects of blood thinners


Bleeding is the most common side effect of blood thinners. They can also cause an upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea.


Other possible side effects can depend on which type of blood thinner that you are taking.

Call your provider if you have any sign of serious bleeding, such as:

  • Menstrual bleeding that is much heavier than normal

  • Red or brown urine

  • Bowel movements that are red or black

  • Bleeding from the gums or nose that does not stop quickly

  • Vomit that is brown or bright red

  • Coughing up something red

  • Severe pain, such as a headache or stomachache

  • Unusual bruising

  • A cut that does not stop bleeding

  • A serious fall or bump on the head

  • Dizziness or weakness

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