Blood Thinning Medications
Blood Thinning Medications are commonly taken orally in the form of tablets or administered by IV directly into the blood. Oral blood thinning medications are used primarily for long-term prevention of blood clots in people who have already experienced a heart attack, stroke, or previous blood clot, undergone surgery for coronary stent placement, or have other severe risk factors. IV Blood Thinning Medications are commonly used to treat hospitalized patients, such as to prevent deep-vein blood clots after surgery, during surgery on the heart or blood vessels, people who currently have a blood clot, and other people who are considered in need of this more aggressive type of treatment. Many blood thinning medications lower high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for clots, and, conversely, many blood pressure medications also act like Blood Thinning Medications. However, not all blood thinning medications are actually blood pressure medications or vice versa. For example, beta blockers lower blood pressure by causing blood vessels to dilate, but a beta blocker does not act directly to thin the blood or prevent platelets from sticking. The effectiveness of blood thinning medications is measured with the INR test (International Normalized Ratio).1 Your doctor will check your INR regularly to ensure that you are receiving the desired effects from your prescribed blood thinning medications. The most common oralblood thinning medications are over-the-counter aspirins. Although it does not require a prescription, it can have serious side effects and interactions with other drugs due to its function as a blood thinner. The most common prescription oral blood thinning medications are Coumadin and warfarin. Coumadin interactions with foods and other drugs are also common, in part because Coumadin acts on vitamin K, and vitamin K levels are sensitive to diet and antibiotics. Heparin-type blood thinners are the most common IV blood thinning medications. This drug can be very effective but carries an increased risk of bleeding. Reference ( Oertel LB. International Normalized Ratio (INR): an improved way to monitor oral anticoagulant therapy. Nurse Pract. 1995;21-22.