Blood thinners, such as Coumadin (Warfarin Sodium) are prescribed to prevent blood clots. When this type of medication is prescribed, the patient must undergo regular blood tests to ensure that proper “therapeutic” amounts of the drug remain in the blood stream. If a patient is below “therapeutic” levels, they will not be protected from blood clot formation. If a patient is above “therapeutic” levels, they could develop life-threatening internal bleeding.
- Coumadin is derived from a chemical found in sweet clover. Ranchers discovered that cattle that grazed on this plant were prone to developing internal bleeding.
- Coumadin was first introduced in the 1940’s as a poison to control rat and mouse populations.
- Coumadin was approved by the FDA as a prescription medication in 1954.
- The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) named the blood thinner Coumadin as the #1 most likely drug to send you to the hospital.
- Remember B.E.S.T. as an easy way to follow how to fit blood thinner medication into daily life.
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Anticoagulation medications such as Coumadin (Warfarin Sodium) are prescribed to prevent several different maladies caused by blood clots. These include strokes, heart attacks, and chronic blood clots known as DVT’s (deep vein thromboses). Patients who undergo hip and knee replacement surgeries are frequently given Coumadin to prevent post-operative blood clot formation. Also, patients with coronary artery stents, prosthetic heart valves, and heart rhythm abnormalities (cardiac arrhythmia) are given Coumadin to prevent thrombosis and thromboembolism, conditions that can result in a stroke or heart attack.
Blood thinners can cause serious injuries when prescribed incorrectly. Too little of the drug will not adequately protect a patient from blood clot formation. Too much of the drug can cause internal bleeding or death. As a result, patients who take blood thinners are required to undergo regular blood testing to ensure that the amount in the blood stream remains at proper “therapeutic” levels.
It must also be remembered that even when a patient is in the proper “therapeutic” range, it can be difficult to control bleeding from small cuts and bruises. As a result, it is recommended that patients taking Coumadin be careful to avoid injuries and refrain from using razor blades and other sharp objects.
Patients who take blood thinners like Coumadin must by closely monitored by means of an “International Normalized Ratio” blood test (INR). INR tests results between 2.0 and 3.0 are generally considered as the proper “therapeutic” range for the prevention of blood clots. However, some high-risk patients require a higher “therapeutic” range between 2.5 and 3.5.
When a person is first prescribed Coumadin, they receive INR testing every several days to ascertain the dosages required to maintain the proper “therapeutic” range. Based upon several different factors, the patient may be required to take different doses of Coumadin at different times of the day until a stable therapeutic range is determined. After the patient is considered stable, they continue to require INR blood tests every 4-6 weeks.
Continued monitoring is important because changes in diet, weight, and physical activity can take a person out of their “therapeutic” range. In addition, several medications, health supplements and foods can alter the effectiveness of Coumadin. Common examples include:
- NSAID’s such as Advil and Aleve
- Ginkgo Biloba
- St. John’s Wort
- Vitamin E
- Green Tea
- Alcohol use
To prevent complications associated with blood thinners, medical practitioners often recommend following the acronym “BEST.”
- Be careful
- Eat right
- Stick to a routine
- Test regularly
BLOOD THINNER ERRORS:
When a patient falls outside the recommended “therapeutic” range, profound injuries can occur. These include irreversible organ damage, heart attack, stroke and even death. Proper monitoring and INR blood testing are the primary keys to avoiding these devastating complications.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been harmed as a result of a blood thinner error, you want the matter reviewed by legal professionals with the training and experience needed to get the answers you deserve. Call us now for a free consultation.