Understanding Blood Thinners and How They Work

Understanding Blood Thinners and How They Work

Millions of people across the United States and Canada take blood thinners on a daily basis. This medication plays an important role in reducing high-risk patients’ chances of suffering from a stroke or blood clot.

Around 795,000 people in the United States alone have strokes every year. A further 900,000 experience deep vein thrombosis or DVT.

Taking blood thinners can reduce your chances of suffering from either of these and could even save your life! So it’s always worth discussing them with your doctor.

Not familiar with how blood thinners work?

Then you’re in the right place! Read on to find out everything you need to know about this amazing medication and for a list of blood thinners on the market.

Why Do Some People Need Blood Thinners?

Some people are more likely to suffer from a stroke or develop a blood clot than others.

Finding out you’re a ‘high-risk’ patient can be upsetting but, with the help of blood thinners, you’ll be able to significantly reduce this risk. And some people only need to take blood thinners for short periods of time in order to reduce their risk significantly.

You should consider using this medication if you:

  •     Suffer from heart disease or blood vessel disease
  •     Have a heart defect
  •     Have an irregular heart rhythm, otherwise known as atrial fibrillation
  •     Have lupus
  •     Suffer from blood clots or deep vein thrombosis
  •     Are significantly overweight
  •     Have recently undergone heart surgery
  •     Have a heart that is fitted with an artificial valve

Each of these conditions can affect the ease with which your blood flows through your heart and body. So doctors may prescribe blood thinners in order to help this. To understand more, let’s take a look at how these work.

How Does Blood Thinner Medication Work?

There are two main types of blood thinning medication: anticoagulants and antiplatelets. These both improve blood flow around the body, but they do it in slightly different ways.

Anticoagulants focus on reducing the amount of vitamin K that comes from your liver. This vitamin is responsible for the proteins (or clotting factors) that help bind your blood cells together. Without it, your blood won’t clot as much and will flow better around your body.

Antiplatelets affect the platelets in your blood. These are minuscule blood cells that stick together to form clots. By stopping the platelets from sticking to one another or to your blood vessels, these meds stop blockages in your bloodstream.

Anticoagulants are much stronger than antiplatelets. Doctors often use them to treat immediate problems. In contrast, they use weaker antiplatelets to reduce the risk of blood clots in the future.

Different Types of Blood Thinners

As we’ve already mentioned, there are two different types of blood thinners. But lots of different medications can act as blood thinners. We’ve put together this blood thinners list to familiarize you with some of the most common blood thinners’ names.

Commonly used anticoagulants include Eliquis blood thinners along with Warfarin and PRADAXA. Or your doctor may prescribe one of the following:

  •     Edoxaban
  •     Heparin
  •     Fondaparinux
  •     Rivaroxaban

Certain types of anticoagulants are very strong and doctors will only administer them in a hospital using an IV drip. Any medication you have to take at home will come in the form of a pill.

Antiplatelets also come in pill form and include aspirin, ticagrelor, and clopidogrel. Other commonly used antiplatelets include dipyridamole, prasugrel, and vorapaxar.

Side Effects of Blood Thinners

As with most medications, there some side effects to taking blood thinners that you should be aware of.

Because this medication affects your blood’s clotting abilities, it often will flow quicker than normal. So if you get a cut you may find that it takes longer to stop bleeding.

You may even have to visit the ER for help stemming the blood flow. If you are in an accident, then it’s incredibly important to let the paramedics know that you are on blood thinners as soon as possible.

Side effects can vary depending on the medication you’re taking, but they can include:

  •     Dizziness
  •     Heavier periods than usual
  •     Nose bleeds
  •     Bleeding gums
  •     Blood in your urine, stool or vomit
  •     Weakness or fatigue
  •     Headaches
  •     Stomach aches

While some of these side effects can be unpleasant, the life-saving potential of most blood thinners vastly outweighs them. If you are really suffering, it may be worth discussing your treatment with your doctor.

Depending on what type of medication they prescribe, you doctor may want to check up on you during your course of treatment. For example, when taking Warfarin it is important to keep monitoring your vitamin K levels to maintain the right balance in your body.

Other medications – even over the counter medications – and diet can have an effect on your blood thinners. They may, for example, upset the vitamin K balance in your blood-thinning medication. This is why it is extremely important to discuss your diet and any medications with your doctor.

The Bottom Line

Taking blood thinners could have a huge impact on your health, both now and in the future. They are a brilliant way to protect yourself from life-threatening conditions if you’re a high-risk patient. So don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor about them today.

If you’ve already got your prescription at the ready, then you’re in the right place! We’re here to help you find the best-priced medication around.

Check out our pricing here or get in touch to register with Maple Leaf Medications today. We’re here to help!