5 Things You Should Know About Blood Thinners

Education is a crucial part of ensuring you reap the full benefits of your blood thinning medications. 

Each year, nearly 2 million Americans are prescribed blood thinners to prevent blood clots from forming in the circulatory system. These complex medications, known as anticoagulants, require regular monitoring and frequent dose adjustments to help reduce the risk of bleeding while preventing blood clots.

For anyone at taking blood thinners, knowing the basics about these medications can be lifesaving.

For anyone at taking blood thinners, knowing the basics about these medications can be lifesaving.

Research shows that patients who participate in a comprehensive anticoagulation-management program have a better quality of life due to fewer drug interactions and bleeding complications. It’s because of these findings that Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health instituted an Anticoagulation Program in 2010 for patients taking blood-thinning medication.

The program is directed by Michael Bloch, M.D., FACP, FVM, FASH, FNLA, a board-certified internist specializing in vascular medicine; and Adam Porath, PharmD, a nationally recognized leader in clinical pharmacy. Under their direction, a team of nurse practitioners and clinical pharmacists work together with patients and their physicians to ensure patients receive safe, effective, quality care.

“With regular monitoring as well as a comprehensive education program, we are able to help patients better manage their condition and reduce the risks that are associated with blood-thinning medications,” explains Porath.

The Top 5 Things You Need to Know While Taking Blood-Thinning Medications

  1. Medications: Many drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, can interact with anticoagulants. It is important that you inform your healthcare provider of any medications you are taking.
  2. Dietary supplements: A number of natural supplements can impact how blood thinners work in the body, including coenzyme Q10, green tea and St. John’s Wort. Consult your healthcare provider before taking herbal remedies.
  3. Food and drinks: Diet can affect how some blood thinners work in the body. Because vitamin K (found in leafy green vegetables, vitamins and herbal supplements) can interfere with blood thinners, for example, you may be advised to monitor your vitamin K intake. You should work to keep your diet consistent, both in the type and amount of foods you eat.
  4. Dosage: Always follow your provider’s instructions when it comes to taking blood thinners. Never double your dose in one day to make up for a missed dose. If you miss a dose, contact your doctor to ensure you receive the correct dosage.
  5. Bleeding: Blood thinners are a potentially lifesaving medication, but they come with an increased risk of bleeding. It is important to inform your healthcare provider about any bleeding or unusual bruising your experience. Although rare, bleeding caused by blood thinners can be very serious and requires immediate medical attention.

The Anticoagulation Program was recently been designated a Center of Excellence by the Anticoagulation Forum — a multidisciplinary, nonprofit organization of healthcare professionals dedicated to improving the quality of care for patients taking blood-thinning medications. The two-year Anticoagulation Center of Excellence designation is awarded to programs that provide the highest level of comprehensive care and achieve the best possible outcomes for patients on blood thinners.

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