Various blood-thinning medications help prevent complications associated with blood clots, including death. Some common blood-thinning medications include anticoagulants, such as warfarin and heparin. Other examples of blood thinners include those classified as antiplatelet medications, such as aspirin.
Patients suffering from or at risk for various diseases and conditions rely on blood thinners to reduce the risk of dangerous clots. Blood-thinning medications classified as anticoagulants help prevent blood clots from occurring by slowing the formation of blood clots in a patient’s body. Antiplatelet medications work to help stop platelets from forming a blood clot.
Those taking anticoagulants must undergo regular blood testing to monitor their blood levels. These tests allow physicians to adjust the dosage on an as needed basis to ensure the patient’s blood is not prone to clotting. Patients must also check with a pharmacist or physician before taking any over-the-counter medications. Those prescribed an anticoagulant, such as warfarin or heparin, should never take aspirin unless instructed to do so by a physician.
Warfarin is perhaps the most common type of anticoagulant prescribed to patients. Patients take daily doses of the medication based on individual needs. Those taking warfarin should also consume a consistent amount of foods containing Vitamin K, such as spinach, cauliflower, and lettuce. These foods can interfere with the efficiency of warfarin when consumed in erratic amounts.
Heparin is another common type of blood-thinning medication. Typically, this anticoagulant is given in the hospital as an intravenous medication. This medication can help break down existing blood clots while preventing the formation of new ones.
Antiplatelet medications, such as aspirin, are another option for some people at risk for blood clots. These blood-thinning medications should be taken as instructed by a physician. Aspirin is commonly prescribed for those recovering from or at risk for heart problems, such as a heart attack.
Combination medications may also be prescribed. Blood-thinning medications containing a combination of aspirin and dipyridamole can also help prevent blood clots from forming in those susceptible to blood clots. Side effects are minimal and can include headache, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort.
Those taking blood-thinning medications should keep an eye out for possible complications. This can include intestinal bleeding and easy bruising. Intestinal bleeding can be identified by checking stool for a black or tarry appearance. Any unusual symptoms or signs that develop while taking blood thinners should be discussed with a physician as soon as possible.