It is essential that women know the basics about coumadin, warfarin, and other blood thinners before taking this type of medication. Known as anticoagulants, as well as blood thinners, these medications prevent blood clots from forming and causing serious medical conditions in older women. Blood thinners are extremely important for treating a range of issues, such as atrial fibrillation and pulmonary embolism, as well as for hip or other joint replacements and different types of heart surgeries. Blood thinners do not actually thin out blood; instead, they keep blood clots from forming and moving to different parts of the body and causing serious problems, such as heart attack and stroke. Warfarin, also known as coumadin, is the most popular blood thinner currently used for patients who need this type of medication. Read more to discover what women need to know about using coumadin, warfarin, and other blood thinners.
While called blood thinners, coumadin, warfarin, and other blood thinners do not actually thin out blood. Instead, these medications decrease the body's ability to form blood clots. Vitamin K is needed to prevent bleeding and clot the blood, and Warfarin - also known as coumadin - blocks those Vitamin K clotting factors. Over the last few years, studies have shown that blood thinners can be more widely used than previously thought, especially women diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Affecting about 2.7 million people in the United States, AFib is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. In 2014, a joint study conducted by the American Heart Association, Heart Rhythm Society, and the American College of Cardiology established new guidelines for the use of anticoagulants. Since then, AFib patients recommended for blood-thinning drugs increased by almost 20 percent. Nearly one million patients with AFib who previously were not recommended for blood thinners would now be eligible.
While warfarin and coumadin have been used for 65 years, researchers have developed new blood thinners that have been released since 2010. These are Pradaxa, Xarelto, and Eliquis, and have also been approved to treat deep vein thrombosis (DVT), blood clots that occur in the lower leg and thigh, particularly after surgery, as well as AFib. Blood thinners are typically taken in pill form at the same time each day, preferably in the evening around dinner time. Anticoagulants can be taken with or without food. There are some advantages to taking the newer blood thinners. Unlike warfarin, this new generation of anticoagulants do not require frequent blood tests to monitor the drug's effects on the liver. These newer anticoagulants have far fewer food and drug interactions, eliminating the need for dietary restrictions. For example, individuals taking warfarin need to be careful of foods with vitamin K, as well as aspirin, herbal tea, cold remedies, ibuprofen, and alcohol.
Regardless of the blood thinner used, there are potential side effects, especially when it comes to bleeding risks. women taking warfarin need to be particularly careful of injuries, no matter how large or small. Ideally, women should avoid situations that cause injury, but this might not be possible at all times. With cuts, patients need to apply constant pressure over time until bleeding stops. With larger cuts, individuals should apply pressure and get help immediately from medical professionals. Any serious falls with unusual pain or swelling also require medical attention when taking anticoagulant medication. Other side effects can include flu-like symptoms, headache, pain, diarrhea, upset stomach, and dizziness. It is recommended that patients who take warfarin or other blood thinners carry or wear identification that states they are taking the medication.