Anticoagulants are a type of medications which tends to prevent the blood from clotting. Sometimes anticoagulants are also known as blood thinner medications. These medicines are used for treating and preventing blood clots, which occurs in the blood vessel. Blood clot blocks arteries or veins and so blocked arteries stops blood and oxygen from getting to part of the body. The tissues supplied by the blocked arteries get damaged or dies, which ultimately results in much serious complications like stroke or heart attack. A blood clot in a large vein like deep vein thrombosis may cause serious problem of pulmonary embolism.
Why anticoagulants are necessary?
When our body is either wounded from inside or on the skin, then blood may leak into the internal organs or out of the body. To prevent this situation, the blood forms a clot which creates a seal over the wound. When the blood gets clot, what happens is a series of complex processes tends to take place and makes the blood sticky. Also the blood starts to clot at the bleeding place which prevents furthermore bleeding. When one or more parts of the process fail to work, then blood may clot too much or not enough. In case, if the blood does not clot much then the risk increases for excessive bleeding. On the other hand, when it clots much then blood clots form where they block blood vessels too. Anticoagulants work to reduce the ability of blood to clot so that unwanted blood clot do not forms.
When are anticoagulant medications used?
There could be many uses for these anti coagulant and AntiAnti. Anticoagulants are commonly prescribed for those who have any condition caused due to blood clots or who are on the verge of developing one. Common conditions include:
- Deep vein thrombosis– In this condition, a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the leg.
- Atrial fibrillation– Atrial fibrillation sometimes causes blood to pool in the upper heart chambers. A Blood clot can be formed in the pooled blood.
- Pulmonary embolism- A blood clot is formed which is then travelled to the lungs, often from deep vein thrombosis.
- High or moderate risk for stroke– Stroke can be caused from a blood clot in the brain.
- Heart valve replacement– Blood clot can be formed on or near the heart valve.
- Transient ischemic attack– Transient ischemic attacks are sometimes an early sign of some future stroke.
The patient can also be prescribed an anticoagulant medicine if he had surgery or is at the risk of getting blood clots in part of the body like heart.
Some of the anticoagulants or blood clot medications which help to prevent blood clot are: Warfarin, Heparin, Dalteparin, Danaparoid, Enoxaparin, Fondaparinux and Tinzaparin.
- Warfarin– Warfarin is the most common anticoagulant and is a blood clot medication that prevents blood clot. The dosage for this blood clot medicine differs from person to person. Those who takes warfarin should get a blood test in every 2- 4 weeks to ensure that the blood is thinning at the correct degree and without any bleeding issues.
- Heparin– Heparin is another blood clot medicine which works comparatively faster than warfarin. This anticoagulant is given in the condition when an immediate effect is desired. In hospitals also, it is given to prevent the growth of an earlier detected blood clot. They are also prescribed for pregnant woman in whom antiphospholipid antibodies are being detected, because recommending warfarin could be little harmful for the unborn baby. When taken for a longer period of time, it may also enhance the risk for osteoporosis. Many patients rely on warfarin when they need need long term anticoagulant treatment.
Side effects of anticoagulants
Some serious side effects of anticoagulants include: bleeding and gangrene (necrosis) of the skin. Bleeding may occur in any organ or tissue of the body. Bleeding in the kidneys leads to back pain and blood in the urine. Bleeding in stomach results in weakness, black stools, fainting and blood in the vomiting. Whereas bleeding of the brain can cause extreme headache and paralysis.
Other potential side effects of the drug may include: bloating, jaundice, diarrhea, loss of hair, rashes, pain in the toes and itchy feet. Whereas in case of heparin, one could experience mild pain, redness and warmth at the injection site. Excessive bruising, heavy menstrual bleeding and bleeding gums are other side effects when one gets overdose of the medications. One should immediately consult a doctor in case of experiencing symptoms like swelling, numbness or trouble during breathing.