When we talk about blood thinners, we might think of medications that make the blood more watery, but that’s not really the case. The medical term is anticoagulants, meaning drugs prevent blood coagulation, or clotting. They are prescribed for patients in danger of producing blood clots in their blood vessels. These clots break loose and travel to vital organs, where they can block off blood flow, preventing the organ from getting needed oxygen and nutrients. Patients are often given anticoagulants after surgery to prevent blood from coagulating during recuperation. A condition called atrial fibrillation, in which a portion of the heart does not moving effectively, can also require treatment to prevent clots from forming in that area. Artificial heart valves are another risk factor for internal clots—as are deep vein thrombosis, in which clots form in the legs, is another indication for anticoagulation.
As all medications, blood thinners can have side effects and cause problems. The most serious issue is spontaneous bleeding (e.g. from the gastrointestinal tract, the nose or the brain), or bleeding following an injury. These can be life-threatening.
Common Blood Thinners with Dosage and Directions
- Coumadin (warfarin)–is one of the oldest and most common blood thinners around. It works by reducing vitamin K, which functions in blood clotting. Dosage is carefully controlled according to frequent regular blood tests.
- Pradaxa (dabigatran)–inhibits an enzyme that produces fibrin, a molecule that helps to form clots. It is used in atrial fibrillation and after hip and knee replacement. It is taken orally in a dose of 150 mg twice a day.
- Eliquis (apixaban)–indirectly inhibits platelets, a type of cell involved in clot formation. It is taken by mouth in a dosage of 5 mg twice daily.
- Savaysa (edoxaban)–inhibits platelets from aggregating. It is taken orally, 60 mg per day.
- Lovenox (enoxaparin)–inhibits two blood coagulation molecules. It is given by injection to hospital patients or patients who are bridged to coumadin.
- Heparin–neutralizes certain coagulation factors. Given to hospital patients by injection.
- Xarelto (rivaroxaban)–prevents fibrin from forming from fibrinogen. It is usually taken in a dose of 10 mg.
Did you know? QuickMD can refill your anticoagulants from the convenience of your home, and provide you with a blood thinner prescription online. We can also order coagulation lab studies (PT/INR) online for you.