What are Anti-coagulants?
Anticoagulants are medications that reduce or prevent the formation of clots in the blood by inhibiting the production of Vitamin K; part of the body's clotting mechanism.
The two most commonly used anticoagulants are heparin and warfarin.
Disease Conditions requiring Anti-coagulant use:
Anticoagulants are prescribed in any of the following conditions:
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Pulmonary embolism
- Atrial fibrillation
- Heart attack
- Artificial heart valve
- Clotting disorders
- Anti-coagulation monitoring program
An anti-coagulation treatment needs to be adequately monitored so as to provide maximum benefit to the patient without adverse side effects such as bleeding.
Anti-coagulation treatment is monitored based on the INR (International Normalized Ratio) of your blood test. INR ratio is a measure of the additional time taken for the blood to clot when oral anticoagulants are used. That is, if the INR ratio is 3, it means that the time taken for blood to coagulate is three times more than the normal coagulation time. The anti-coagulant dosage is unique for each individual and depends on that particular disease condition of the individual. Your physician will determine an appropriate therapeutic range for you, which will also indicate the target INR. The target INR would be halfway between the upper and lower numbers of the therapeutic range. If the blood test results show an INR which exceeds the therapeutic range, the individual would be at an increased risk of bleeding. Your physician would, therefore, decrease the dosage of the anti-coagulant. On the contrary, if the INR falls below the therapeutic range, the individual would be at an increased risk of clotting. Consequently, the anticoagulant dosage is increased by the physician.
Always rely on your physician's advice for the anti-coagulation dosage and duration of dosage. Take the exact prescribed dosage and follow the exact prescribed duration (maybe a month, a few months, or lifetime) as per your physician's instructions.
Side Effects of Anti-coagulants
Anticoagulant therapy side effects include bleeding and bruising. Notify your doctor if you notice blood in the sputum, stools, or urine; unexplained bruising, nosebleeds or bleeding gums.