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Blood thinners are medicines that help prevent blood clots. Although they are called blood thinners, they don't really thin the blood. They slow down the time it takes for a blood clot to form.
You have to be careful when you take blood thinner medicines. They can raise the risk of serious bleeding. But you can do some simple things to help prevent problems.
This Actionset is about all blood thinner medicines except warfarin (Coumadin). There are some extra steps you have to take if you take warfarin. To learn more, see Warfarin: Taking Your Medicine Safely.
You can take blood thinner medicine safely by taking a few steps:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if you have:
If you are injured, apply pressure to stop bleeding. Realize that it
will take longer than you are used to for the bleeding to stop. If you can't get the bleeding to stop, call your doctor.
Give your list of medicines to every doctor and dentist who treats you. Taking certain medicines along with a blood thinner can cause bleeding. It also can change how well your medicines work.
To avoid problems:
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or trying to get pregnant, talk with your doctor. You and your doctor will decide what medicines are safe for you during pregnancy. Do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to.
To learn more about taking aspirin safely, see Low-Dose Aspirin Therapy.
Check with your doctor as soon as you can before any surgery or test (such as a colonoscopy). You may need to stop taking your blood thinner or some of your other medicines up to a week or more before the procedure. Your doctor will tell you when it is safe to start taking your medicine again.
If you have a high risk of falling, make these changes in your life to prevent falls:
Make these changes in your home to prevent falls:
To prevent injuries, be careful with your activities:
Other Works Consulted
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2010). Blood Thinner Pills: Your Guide to Using Them Safely (AHRQ Publication No. 09-0086-C). Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Available online: http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/btpills.htm.
Current as of:
March 12, 2014
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Jeffrey S. Ginsberg, MD - Hematology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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