Anticoagulants, more commonly known as blood thinners, are pharmaceuticals that slow blood clotting. By slowing blood clotting, the medicine can help prevent blood clots from forming and traveling to the brain causing a stroke.
Anticoagulants may be prescribed if you suffer from certain heart conditions or have had a previous heart attack. Other reasons anticoagulant management is prescribed include atrial fibrillation, heart failure, coronary artery disease, and related cardiovascular disease.
What to Expect on Blood Thinners
Some patients may feel initially overwhelmed when prescribed anticoagulants, which is completely normal. Anticoagulant therapy is a very common way to help treat heart disease with a high rate of success. Most patients continue to go about their daily routine after starting on blood thinners or anticoagulants.
One of the most common drugs prescribed is warfarin. When taking warfarin, or any other anticoagulant, Dr. Nadar and his team will provide guidance on how to best manage side effects and how to adjust your diet and exercise to account for the medication.
Because anticoagulants prevent your blood from clotting, you are at a higher risk for bleeding. Dr. Nadar and the team at Capital Area Cardiovascular Associates will monitor your blood clotting time (INR) and adjust your dosage as necessary to find a balance between a bleeding risk and blood clot risk.
Patients who are on blood thinners will have their INR tested approximately every four to six weeks to make sure medication dosages are still applicable. INR testing is done in our office and does not require a hospital visit.
Potential Side Effects While Taking Anticoagulants
As with most prescription drugs, there are potential side effects and drug interactions to keep in mind. During your visit at our Camp Hill or Newport office, we will review how anticoagulants work, answer your questions, and discuss potential side effects of the drug including:
- Bleeding: Because anticoagulants stop your blood from clotting, a minor scrape or scratch may bleed more than usual. Slow internal bleeding may also be a risk.
- Nausea and fatigue: Some patients experience flu-like symptoms when taking warfarin and other anticoagulants. This is caused by a low blood cell count which leads to fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
- Negative drug interactions: Anticoagulants should not be taken with some antibiotics and anti-fungal medications. Before starting your anticoagulant management therapy, share with cardiologist Dr. Nadar all the medication you are currently taking so he can advise on alternate treatment if needed.
Dr. Nadar and his team will work with your primary care physician and other healthcare professionals to develop a plan that works for your specific diagnosis and your life. If you have any concerns about your treatment plan, talk to Dr. Nadar during your next appointment. Our goal is to help you be comfortable with your anticoagulant treatment plan.