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Deep Vein Thrombosis Health Center

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Blood Thinner Basics

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You may also need this type of medicine if you have a heart or blood vessel disease, an irregular heart rhythm, lupus, or deep vein thrombosis. (DVT is a dangerous type of blood clot that often forms in the leg.) You also have a greater risk for blood clots if you’re overweight, recently had surgery, or have an artificial heart valve.

Some people only need these meds for a few months. But if you have ongoing health problems, you may need to take them every day

If you have atrial fibrillation, blood thinners can keep you from having a stroke. That’s one of the most common reasons doctors prescribe it.

Risks

Clotting isn't always a bad thing: When you cut yourself, it's what seals your wound and keeps you from losing too much blood. Blood thinners prevent clotting. So, even tiny cuts or bruises will bleed a lot more if you take these drugs.

You should be very careful when taking part in activities that could cause any type of injury. Call your doctor right away if you fall or hit your head. Even if you don't tear your skin, you could bleed internally.

Let your doctor know right away if you notice any signs of unusual bleeding, like:

  • Heavier-than-normal menstrual periods
  • Blood in your urine or stool
  • Bleeding from your gums or nose
  • Vomiting or coughing up blood
  • Dizziness
  • Weaknesses
  • A severe headache or stomach ache

If you take an anticoagulant like warfarin or heparin, you'll need regular blood tests so your doctor can adjust your levels if needed. Ask him about other steps you should take to stay safe while you're on this medication. Be careful with activities that can lead to head injuries. Any type of trauma is extremely dangerous if you’re taking a blood thinner. 

If you get a dangerous bleeding problem while taking warfarin, doctors can turn to an "antidote" of Vitamin K or a combination of prothrombin complex concentrate (PCC) and fresh frozen plasma to stop it. In addition, approval has been given for using idarucizumab (Praxbind) in emergencies to reverse the anit-clotting effects of Pradaxa.

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