Anticoagulants or blood thinners

If you have a heart condition or are at high risk of having a heart attack or stroke, your doctor may recommend that you take blood thinners. In Life and Health we tell you what they are and how they work, so that you are well informed before taking them.

You do not have to be a scientist to understand a little what is the function of anticoagulants, because their very name says it … “anti-coagulant”. That is, this type of medication is responsible for preventing clots or small lumps forming in your blood. This prevents an artery or vein from becoming clogged and decreases the risk of developing a heart attack or a stroke or stroke (when a clot covers a blood vessel that supplies your brain).

They are also called blood thinners, although this name can be confusing because they do not really dilute the blood, but prevent it from clotting. This is an important clarification, since taking an anticoagulant does not mean that the clots that are already in your blood are going to be diluted or undone. These medications are only responsible for preventing new clots from forming.

There are two types of anticoagulants. The former are simply known as anticoagulants, and through chemical reactions make your blood take longer to form clots. Among the best known in the United States are: dicumarol, warfarin (Coumadin) and anisinidione (Miradon).

Have you ever heard that someone takes aspirin for the heart? Well that is the second type of anticoagulants, also known as anti-platelet drugs. These are responsible for preventing platelets (some cells that are in your blood) from clumping together to form clots.

But the fact that they help prevent strokes or strokes does not mean that anyone should take blood thinners. Be careful! These medications should only be taken when prescribed by your doctor or your cardiologist and should be taken according to the instructions he or she gives you.

Anticoagulants are usually prescribed for people who have heart disease such as atrial fibrillation , phlebitis or who have certain congenital (birth) defects. As well as for people who have a high risk of suffering from the heart because they are obese or have had heart valve surgery, for example.

How much should you take? To define what dose you need, the cardiologist will perform a blood test to assess the level of coagulation and thus define how much diluent you need. And you should perform regular checkups to check that the dose is still adequate according to your needs that could vary. If the dose is not enough you will not be receiving the benefit, if the dose is high you could have a hemorrhage. It is important that the dose is at the therapeutic level that will provide what you need with the lowest risk.

If your doctor recommended that you start taking anticoagulants, keep in mind that you should also take several precautions. For example, it is not advisable to take them in combination with certain medicines, supplements or herbs as they can alter their effect. It is also not advisable to take them when you have passed or you will go through a medical procedure (a surgery), because by diluting your blood they can cause a hemorrhage. Even if you have very strong menstrual periods or do sports in which you run the risk of hitting yourself easily, it is not advisable to take anticoagulants for the same reason.

And the precautions do not stop there. In most cases, your doctor will indicate some changes in your diet, especially to avoid foods that have vitamin K (liver, fish, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli) as they reduce the effect of the drug or recommend that you do not change your diet. Also, you should not smoke or drink liquor while taking anticoagulants. Alcohol increases the effect of the anticoagulant.

Anticoagulants can be very positive for your health, but they should be taken seriously. Because with the blood is not played, it is our vital liquid and we must protect it to the maximum.

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