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What Should I do About a Coumadin&Reg; Overdose?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Coumadin® (generic name warfarin) is an anticoagulant medication that can be extremely important for people to take in order to reduce their risk of stroke. It is typically prescribed for those at high risk of stroke who have artificial valves or who have undergone various heart surgeries that may elevate this risk. It remains a challenging medication to take because people respond to different levels of the drug in various ways, and certain foods or medication can make the medicine more or less reactive. Those on this medication may require frequent blood tests to be assured that warfarin remains at safe blood levels, and adjustment of meds can be required regularly.

Coumadin® overdose is not generally intentional, but because dosage can change so frequently, people may accidentally take more of the medication than they should. This can be complicated because many people requiring this drug may be on a variety of other heart or cardiovascular medications too. It is fairly easy to slip up and take the wrong dose, and a Coumadin® overdose is an extremely hazardous situation.

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Those who suspect they or another person has taken a Coumadin® overdose need to do one thing: Contact emergency services immediately. It is possible that a person who has overdosed will show no initial signs of having taking too much. Some signs that could occur include extreme bruising, heavy bleeding, or heavy menstruation. Other symptoms might show up as broken blood vessels, or blood in the urine or stool. Even if the dose taken is only slightly higher than the one prescribed, this should be treated with extreme caution, as overall effect can be very dangerous. Moreover, these symptoms, even if a person doesn’t suspect Coumadin® overdose, should be treated as a medical emergency if a person regularly takes warfarin.

There are a few things a person should not do if they suspect Coumadin® overdose. They should not wait it out to see if symptoms will get better. Inducing vomiting is an extremely dangerous idea, since this might cause internal bleeding. Calling emergency services and waiting for them to arrive is the safest method for dealing with a suspected overdose.

As mentioned, it can be fairly easy to take the wrong amount of warfarin because levels prescribed can change weekly, monthly or on a fairly regular basis. Most people work with warfarin or anti-coagulation clinics so that they get appropriate instructions on dosage. If a person is unable to understand instructions, they do require help from a caretaker who can make sure that any dosage changes are followed to the letter, thus preventing accidental Coumadin® overdose. As with any hazardous medications, warfarin should be kept well out of reach of children.

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