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Stroke Health Center

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Aspirin, Coumadin Make Strokes Milder

Message to Atrial Fibrillation Patients: Know Your INR

Precautions for Patients Taking Coumadin

Coumadin, known generically as warfarin, is a very potent blood thinner. Taking this drug means taking certain precautions.

Many medications and dietary supplements can affect the way warfarin works. These may include:

Before taking any new medication, including over-the-counter medication or medication prescribed by another doctor or dentist, check with the doctor who monitors your warfarin medication.

Your warfarin doctor may need to adjust your warfarin dosage or may recommend another medication less likely to interfere with warfarin.

Eat a sensible, well-balanced diet. Talk with your doctor if you are planning any major dietary changes such as following a weight-reducing diet or adding nutritional supplements. Large amounts of food high in vitamin K (such as broccoli, spinach, and turnip greens) may change the way warfarin works. Try to keep the amount of these foods in your diet about the same from week to week.

It is best to avoid alcohol while taking warfarin. Alcohol interferes with the effectiveness of warfarin.

Check with your doctor before starting any exercise or sports program. Your doctor may want you to avoid any activity or sport that may result in a serious fall or other injury.

Use a soft toothbrush. Brush and floss gently to prevent bleeding from the gums. And be careful when using razors. Using an electric razor or hair-removing cream minimizes the chance of cuts.

If you cut yourself and the cut is small, apply constant pressure over the cut until the bleeding stops. This may take up to 10 minutes. If the bleeding doesn't stop, continue to apply pressure and go to the nearest emergency room. If the cut is large, apply constant pressure and get help immediately either by phone or by going to the nearest emergency room.

Call your doctor if you have any symptoms of illness such as vomiting, diarrhea, infection, or fever. Illness can change the way warfarin works.

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