Overall Grade: C-
Coumadin is one of the most widely used blood thinners on the market. Manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb, it has been used since the 1950s and has maintained a steady popularity despite certain adverse side effects. Coumadin is the brand name for the chemical Warfarin which was initially used as a pesticide against the menace of rats and other vermin. Its properties as an effective blood thinner were later discovered and it has ranked as one of the most used blood thinners in the US. Warfarin is a synthetic derivative of dicoumarol, a 4-hydroxycoumarin-derived mycotoxin anticoagulant. It was originally derived from sweet clover based animal feed. Coumadin should never be taken without a doctor’s prescription. It is necessary to monitor the exact dose by blood testing for the international normalized ratio to prevent adverse affects. Benefits Coumadin is an effective blood thinner and prevents the formation of clots. It not only acts as a preventive measure but also prevents clots which already exist from spreading further. It helps to controlblood clot embolization to major organs like the brain and lungs. It lessens the risk of pulmonary embolism. Coumadin is also used in patients with atrial fibrillation and artificial heart valves and helps to decrease the risk of strokes. Patients undergoing orthopedic surgeries such as knee or hip replacements are sometimes prescribed Coumadin to prevent the formation of blood clots. Another use of this blood thinner is to prevent blood clot closure of coronary artery stents. Patients who reveal an increased tendency for thrombosis or as prophylaxis use Coumadin. How does Coumadin work? Coumadin blocks the action of vitamin K, which is an important clotting agent that causes blood clots to form hence it is also known as vitamin K antagonists. The effect of Coumadin is felt after the patient has used the medicine for a day or two. The medicine can be taken orally.
Unfortunately, though widely used Coumadin can have several adverse side effects especially if not properly dosed or if it is not monitored carefully. As mentioned above Coumadin is and was a popular rat poison. In large doses it causes death from internal bleeding. The most prominent side effect caused by Coumadin in humans is profuse bleeding. The bleeding often takes place inside the eye or from the intestines though it can occur from other places within the body. A patient on Coumadin should check his stool color regularly and if there is anything abnormal he or she should consult a doctor immediately. It is not advisable to use Coumadin on women who are pregnant as it can adversely affect the unborn child. Avoid this blood thinner if you have a bleeding or blood cell disorder, blood in your urine or stools, an infection of the lining of your heart, stomach bleeding, bleeding in the brain, recent or upcoming surgery, or if you need a spinal tap or spinal anesthesia (epidural). It may also cause an allergic reaction like shortness of breath, nausea, swelling, headache, dizziness etc.
On the whole the editors rate Coumadin as average. Though it has proven its usefulness, it also has several serious drawbacks and in extreme cases result in death. This blood thinner is also not easy to use as regular blood tests are required to monitor the progress of this drug causing the patient considerable inconvenience. A patient on Coumadin needs to also alter his diet which can prove to be a hassle. Consuming large amounts of food rich in vitamin K like spinach, lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage may prevent the drug from working effectively.