If you’ve been diagnosed with an abnormal heart rhythm, such as atrial fibrillation or afib, your doctor may recommend taking blood thinners, also called anticoagulants. These medications reduce the blood’s ability to clot, lowering your risk of stroke.
Your body creates clots to stop you from bleeding. If you fall or bump your head while taking a blood thinner, you may have internal bleeding – even if there’s no external sign you’ve been hurt.
Dr. Matthew Cozart with Mercy Clinic Cardiology has 7 things you should know about blood thinners:
There are lots of options for blood thinners. Your doctor will take into account your health history, age, weight and kidney and liver function before determining which blood thinner might work best for you.
Warfarin is usually well tolerated and inexpensive, but you must monitor how thin your blood is with frequent lab work. Some foods also decrease its effectiveness, so it’s important to keep your diet consistent. New oral anticoagulants, or NOACs, don’t require regular blood work or diet management. However, they can’t be taken with certain heart valve problems.
Some people worry about bruising while taking blood thinners. Dr. Cozart says while this can be concerning, it’s usually not dangerous and is just an unfortunate side effect of a medication that is providing important protection from stroke.
Talk to your Mercy doctor about which blood thinner, if any, is right for you.
Matthew Cozart, MD, is a fellowship-trained interventional cardiologist at Mercy Clinic Cardiology in Rogers, AR, and Bella Vista, AR. To schedule an appointment in Rogers, call 479-338-4400. For Bella Vista, call 479-802-5588.
Find out about atrial fibrillation risk factors, tests and treatment options. Download our guide.