The anticoagulation clinic helps to monitor patients who are prescribed medications such as warfarin, low-molecular weight heparin, and the novel anticoagulants (NOAC) such as Xarelto and Eliquis.
What Are Anticoagulants?
Anticoagulants are used to prevent and treat blood clots in patients who have mechanical heart valves or serious conditions such as atrial fibrillation, deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism. Serious bleeding complications can occur while taking anticoagulant medication. Careful monitoring is necessary in order to provide safe and effective treatment.
Advantages of Anticoagulation Services at Premier Heart and Vein Care
The Anticoagulation Clinic strives to optimize patient care by:
- Closely monitoring INR (international normalized ratio) blood test results
- Adjusting medication dosage
- Providing education about anticoagulant usage
- Monitoring for potential drug/diet interactions
- Orchestrating fingerstick testing to allow from home testing and thus avoiding trips for laboratory draws.
Schedule a Consultation With a Anticoagulation Specialist
To learn more about Anticoagulants or the various treatments Premier Heart and Vein Care offers, or to determine whether you are a candidate to be monitored, schedule a consultation with our office today! Call 805-540-3333 or fill out the Consultation Request Form and our staff will help you arrange your appointment. Our practice serves San Luis Obispo and the surrounding areas, and we look forward to meeting you!
Why Would I Need Anticoagulants?
Anticoagulants are a type of medicine meant to prevent blood clotting. If you are someone who has a higher risk of suffering from a stroke, heart attack, or atrial fibrillation, you may be prescribed anticoagulants. Anticoagulants can treat a number of medical conditions, such as clotted veins and pulmonary embolisms. Patients who previously had a stroke may be prescribed anticoagulants as well.
The thing about anticoagulants, however, is that they are typically used in emergency situations. More specifically, blood thinners, like warfarin, are prescribed and cannot be bought over the counter.
Who Should Avoid Anticoagulant Therapy?
Although anticoagulants can certainly help, they are not for everyone. In fact, a lot of people are unable to take anticoagulants because of the threat they can pose.
You cannot take anticoagulants if you:
- Have uncontrollable blood pressure.
- Have kidney disease.
- Have liver disease.
- Drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
What Are the Risks of Anticoagulants?
While blood-related issues are the main risks you need to be aware of, there are others to consider. For instance, anticoagulants can lower your blood cell count. Having a low blood cell count can cause you to feel weaker, short of breath, and dizzy. Another risk involves potentially mixing medications.
There are certain medications that cause anticoagulants to be more potent. Some of these medications include antibiotics and antifungals. Mixing anticoagulants with any one of these medications can greatly increase your risk of bleeding. If you are taking any other medication, be sure to talk to your doctor about it first. Be sure to discuss your past medical history, medications, and any underlying medical conditions you have.
What Should I Avoid on Anticoagulant Therapy?
As you go through anticoagulant therapy, there are a few things you need to avoid. Although it may sound a little odd, you will need to avoid drinking certain types of juice, such as cranberry, pomegranate, and grapefruit. This is because they can intensify the blood-thinning effect. Vitamin K may also need to be avoided, but you will have to consult your doctor about it. It is also important that you do not consume alcohol of any kind to avoid interactions.
How is Testing Done at the Anticoagulation Clinic?
The most common test measures how long it takes for your blood to clot: the International Normalized Ratio (INR) test. By regularly monitoring your INR, you can ensure that you stay within the safe range and that your medication dosages are in alignment. When your INR is too high, you risk bleeding. A low INR means you could develop clots.
When Will I Know My Results after Testing at the Anticoagulation Clinic?
A point-of-care testing machine can provide results within minutes at the anticoagulation clinic.
What Kind of Specialty is Anticoagulation?
Anticoagulation is not a distinct medical discipline but rather a subspecialty area. The practice of anticoagulation can be found within multiple medical fields, including cardiology, hematology, and internal medicine. The practice of this subspecialty includes:
- Medical Management
- Patient Monitoring
- Patient Education
- Risk Assessment
- Collaborative Care
What are the Safest Blood Thinners to Use?
“Safety” varies by individual, based on why they’re using an anticoagulant, their medical history, and what other drugs they take that could interact with it. However, in general, the following are the most commonly used to treat conditions requiring blood thinning:
- Direct Oral Anticoagulants (DOACs) like Pradaxa, Xarelto, Eliquis, and Savaysa
- Low Molecular Weight Heparin (LMWH)
- Aspirin, an antiplatelet drug that can sometimes be used alone or in combination with other anticoagulants
What Not to Do on Blood Thinners?
When you’re on anticoagulants, never miss a dose of medication, and make sure you maintain regular blood testing appointments. You should avoid activities that could lead to bleeding, such as fall-risk activities and contact sports, and be mindful of sharp objects like shavers and knives. Additionally, you must be cautious of what you ingest: limit alcohol, don’t ingest any new medicine without consulting your doctor, and follow the dietary guidelines provided by your healthcare provider.
How Long Can a Patient Be on Blood Thinners?
The duration of use depends on the reason you’re using them. Short-term uses like DVT, or pulmonary embolism can keep a patient on blood thinners from 3 to 12 months, while patients with chronic conditions like atrial fibrillation may need blood thinners indefinitely.