Anticoagulants increase the time needed for an individual's blood to clot. This is why they are also referred to as blood thinners. They treat blood clots that have formed, and are also given to reduce the risk of blood clots in patients with certain underlying health issues. There are several types of anticoagulants. Examples include factor Xa inhibitors, direct thrombin inhibitors, coumarins, indandiones, and heparins.
Patients often take this type of medication as a treatment for atrial fibrillation. Some of these drugs also act as an unstable angina treatment. Patients who have had blood clots before also take them as a blood clot treatment and prevention method. These medications are great as a heart attack or stroke treatment, since they can prevent future ones. Many individuals also take an over-the-counter anticoagulant to treat similar issues and relieve pain. However, patients must first understand their options for anticoagulants.
Warfarin is taken orally. It needs to be taken at the same time each day. However, it is not safe to use this medication before surgery, spinal taps, or epidurals. Patients with blood cell disorders, aneurysms, stomach ulcers, or heart infections should not take this medicine either. In addition, patients should review their medical history with their doctor before adding warfarin. Points of note include diabetes, congestive heart failure, clotting deficiencies, kidney disease, or low platelets.
Patients should not drink alcohol during treatment with warfarin. They also should avoid drinking grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, and pomegranate juice. Foods with high levels of vitamin K, including leafy green vegetables, can make warfarin less effective. This medication interacts with vitamin K supplements, coenzyme Q10, St. John's wort, and certain antibiotics and antifungals.