- When blood clots form in the veins, it can stop blood flow to the lungs, heart, and brain, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.
- Blood-thinning medications are used to prevent blood clots from forming or becoming bigger.
- Blood thinners can help prevent other life-threatening conditions like heart attack and stroke, but it can also cause excessive bleeding.
Blood clots happen when an aggregate of blood turns from a liquid into a gel-like form to prevent the loss of too much blood when a cut or injury occurs.
A clot can also form in the inside of the veins and may not dissolve easily. In other cases, it can also move to other parts of the body, such as the lungs and heart, and can result in other more dangerous medical conditions. Patients are advised to take blood thinners to manage blood clots. Blood thinners can be taken orally or intravenously.
Types of Blood Thinners
These blood thinners prevent your blood from sticking together and forming clumps. They target the blood platelets and are taken as pills. Some of the most known antiplatelets are Aspirin, Clopidogrel, Dipyridamole, Prasugrel, Ticlopidine, and Vorapaxar.
Anticoagulants work by increasing the amount of time needed for the blood to clot. The commonly used anticoagulants are warfarin and heparin. There is a newer generation of anticoagulants that have a lesser risk of bleeding, and some of them are Apixaban, Dabigatran, Fondaparinux, and Rivaroxaban.
Anticoagulants are more potent than antiplatelets, and they are used to minimize the risk of future blood clots.
Natural blood thinners
Some foods and herbs can act as anticoagulants, too. Spices like garlic and ginger are examples of natural blood thinners. Among the seeds, aniseed and celery seeds are the most effective blood thinners. Vitamin E containing foods are also excellent anticoagulants, and these include broccoli, kiwis, mangoes, spinach, and tomatoes.
Risks of Taking Blood Thinners
Before a patient can take a blood thinner of any kind, a physician must first assess if the benefits outweigh the risks. While on blood-thinning medication, doctors should also monitor each patient to know their international normalized ratio (INR) or the rate at which blood clots. This action is necessary to prevent excessive bleeding or quick clotting and if the dosage needs to be adjusted.
Also, some side effects can happen when taking blood thinners. Doctors advised patients to watch out for bleeding gums, bloody or discolored urine or feces, heavy menstrual flow, nosebleeds, and extended bleeding from a cut. Patients may also experience dizziness, hair loss, muscle weakness, and develop rashes.
Excessive bleeding can also happen, and there is a higher chance of internal bleeding if patients get injured.
Certain foods, supplements, and other drugs can interact with blood thinners, affecting its effectiveness. Some of them are:
Vitamin K-containing foods
Foods that contain Vitamin K can lessen the effect of anticoagulants. If you are taking anticoagulants, you may want to avoid foods like asparagus, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, and lettuce.
Supplements and Beverages
Herbal supplements can also reduce the anti-clotting ability of blood thinners and raise the risk of bleeding. Caution is needed when taking herbal supplements like ginseng and ginkgo biloba.
Avoid also drinking tea, alcohol, and cranberry juice together with blood thinners.
Some acid reducers, antibiotics, and pain relievers can increase the likelihood of bleeding.