Medical practitioners oftentimes prescribe anticoagulant blood thinner medications as a preventive measure for heart attack, arterial blockages and stroke. Let us get to know more about anticoagulant medications and what potential side effects they might cause.
Blood thinners belong to a category of medications collectively known as anticoagulants. Anti-coagulant blood thinners have the potential to alleviate and reduce the risk for developing arterial blockages and blood clots which can lead to heart attack or stroke. These drugs are usually prescribed for those who have conditions such as atrial fibrillation, deep bone thrombosis, phlebitis, and congestive heart failure.
How Anti-coagulants Work
Blood thinners are essentially anti-coagulants, which mean they fight against coagulation and aggregation of blood. They don’t actually thin out the blood as its name suggests. Instead, these substances decrease the natural ability of the blood to clot in order to reduce the risk of developing blood clots, which in turn can block blood vessels and impede the proper flow in the arteries. Blood thinners are not capable of dissolving existing blood clots.
Blood thinners usually come in the form of oral anticoagulant pills. Commonly prescribed brands include Aspirin, Heparin, Enocaparin, Dalteparin, Coumadin or Warfarin and Tinzaparin. Heparin is considered to be more potent and have to be administered intravenously into the bloodstream under your doctor’s close supervision.
Anticoagulants can work in a range of ways. Heparin, for instance, interacts with the enzyme called thrombin by slowing down its effect. This enzyme is responsible for converting the protein fibrinogen into fibrin, which forms blood clots.
Warfarin, on the other hand, is can interfere with the natural chemical processes by slowing down the natural production of vitamin K in the body. Vitamin K plays an important role in the secretion of prothrombin, which again is important in clot formation. These blood thinners essentially work by delaying the onset of clotting to ensure that the blood can be as thin and liquid as possible.
Possible Side Effects of Anticoagulants
Some of the possible side effects of taking anticoagulants are stomach upset, diarrhea and a bloated feeling. Some people report back pains, weakness and dark stools, while a few report feelings of dizziness, nausea and shortness of breath.
Risks and Warnings of Anticoagulant Medications
Read the warnings that come with the medication and talk to your doctor about them. Anticoagulants prevent the blood form forming clots. However, note that the blood’s clotting ability is a mechanism that allows the body to repair injured blood vessels. If the blood loses its anti-coagulant property, the smallest wound can cause profuse bleeding, and the risks for hemorrhage and hematuria are increased. Thus, care must be given to avoid unreasonable high doses of blood thinning medications.
The positive side of the equation is that these medicines can help prevent the formation of harmful clots and reduce the chances of clogged arteries. The potential negative side is that blood thinner medicines can have powerful effects upon your cardiovascular function and potential side effects also.
Be sure to consult with your physician regarding the dosage and the type of blood thinners you might need, and about possible interactions of with medication you may be taking.
Your doctor might advise you take something else instead. Something less powerful and more natural, such as the health food supplements known as fish oil pills. Fish and fish oil have been found to be very good health food that can help support healthy blood flow and good heart health. Ask your doctor about fish oil.