This is general Anticoagulant Information. Please note that we are not doctors.
Always contact your doctor if you have any questions or 911 in case of an emergency.
What are Anticoagulants?
Anticoagulants are medications that slow down the body’s ability to make blood clots. These medications are sometimes called blood thinners. Anticoagulants are available in the following forms: intravenous, injections under the skin, and pills.
Anticoagulants can be used to treat or prevent several medical conditions. Some of the common conditions are: Blood Clot in a vein (DVT, phlebitis), blood clot in the lung (PE), blood clot in an artery in the brain (stroke or TIA), abnormal heart rhythm, blockage of an artery in the heart which can cause a heart attack, heart valve replacement, and total joint replacement.
What is Warfarin and How much do I take?
Warfarin is one of the most frequently prescribed oral anticoagulants. It is currently available under the brand name Coumadin®
The dosage of Warfarin is specific to each patient. It is regulated according to the results of a blood test called the International Normalized Ratio (INR). The INR measures how quickly the blood is clotting and suggests if your dosage of Warfarin should be adjusted.
Other Points To Follow While Taking Anticoagulants
This is a general list to keep in mind and follow while you are taking anticoagulants.
- Maintain the same diet, eat the same types of foods you ate before unless otherwise instructed
- Consult your doctor regarding any diet changes
- Avoid “binge” and crash diets
- Consult your doctor before taking any new vitamins, mineral supplements or new medications
- An excess of foods high in vitamin K could have an affect on your anticoagulation
- Alcoholic beverages may alter the effect of anticoagulants
- Avoid taking medications containing aspirin unless specifically ordered by your doctor
- Other medications will frequently alter the effects of Warfarin, including a large number of over-the counter medications and antibiotics. Be sure that the doctor prescribing any other medications is aware that you are taking Warfarin.
- Carry a form of identification indicating you are taking an anticoagulant such as a Medic Alert bracelet and Wallet Card
- While traveling, take an adequate supply of medications with you, carry medications with you – not in your luggage (you will probably need a note, FAA rules – call the airline prior to traveling), consult your doctor prior to travel
- If you miss a single dose of anticoagulant medication, take it as soon as you remember to take it, up to 24 hours after missing the dose
- If you miss multiple doses or if more than 24 hours elapses, contact your doctor
- If you fall or obtain a blow to your head or body, contact your doctor. Internal bleeding could occur without you being aware of a problem. Please see more information on this below.
- Inform all healthcare providers and dentists that you are taking anticoagulants
- Don’t go barefoot
- Wear gloves when gardening
- Use an electric razor
- Be careful when handling sharp objects
- Use proper fingernail and toenail care
- Don’t change dose or stop taking your anticoagulant medication unless your doctor tells you to do so
- Take medications at the same time each day
When To Contact Your Healthcare Provider
Important signs of bleeding you need to report or call to your doctor:
- Bleeding from your nose or a cut that does not stop within 5-10 minutes
- Increased bleeding from gums or teeth with brushing
- Blood seen with coughing or vomiting
- Increased bleeding during menstrual periods or unexpected vaginal bleeding
- Urine dark brown or red in color
- Bowel movements which are black or red
- Difficulty breathing at rest or with mild activity, dizziness or prolonged headaches
Keep all medications away from children.
Notify your healthcare provider if you become pregnant or are attempting to become pregnant. Anticoagulants pills may harm a fetus. However, anticoagulant injections are safe in pregnancy.
For information on how to administer self-injectable Low Molecular Weight Heparin (LMWH) or Lovenox®, please see the LMWH brochure located on our Downloads page.
Important Information About Anticoagulants and Head Injuries
If you hit your head, seek immediate medical attention. Even if you do not have any signs of a head injury you should still go to the hospital. If you wait until you have symptoms of a head injury if may be too late.
Some health conditions may increase the risk of falling. These conditions include, but are not limited to:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- High or low blood pressure
Early signs and symptoms of a concussion/brain injury may be absent or slight. Some of these signs and symptoms may include:
- Lightheaded or dizzy
- Mood changes
- Urge to vomit
- Sensitivity to light and sounds
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty with remembering or concentrating
- Slowness in actions or speaking
When you go to the hospital let the healthcare professionals know that you have been injured and take Coumadin or Warfarin. Your care will be expedited to ensure that you will receive a prompt diagnosis and treatment.
It is a good idea to wear a medic alert bracelet that indicates you are on Coumadin. This bracelet will alert medical personnel that you are on this medication and aid in your treatment.
Remember, you may have no symptoms after you hit your head but you still need to seek immediate medical attention.
Founded in 2005, the APS Foundation of America, Inc. is dedicated to fostering and facilitating joint efforts in the areas of education, public awareness, research, and patient services for Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS) in an effective and ethical manner.
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LaCrosse, WI 54602-0801
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