There are two. The first is called anticoagulants. These keep your blood from clotting, or turning into solid clumps of cells that stick together. Most come in pill form. Some popular ones in this category include:
Blood thinners don’t actually make your blood thinner. Nor can they break up clots. But they do keep blood from getting thicker and forming new clots. They can also slow the growth of existing ones.
Some anticoagulants do this by removing vitamin K from the liver. Your body needs this to make proteins called clotting factors. These help blood cells and platelets (tiny pieces of blood cells) bind together.
Antiplatelets keep platelets from sticking to each other and to the walls of blood vessels. These drugs are weaker than anticoagulants. They’re often prescribed to people at risk for future blood clots, rather than to treat existing ones.
Who Needs Them?
About 2 million to 3 million people take blood thinners every year. You may need them if you’ve already had a heart attack or a stroke, since they can lower your risk of having a second one.