Excessive blood clotting is treated with medicines. Depending on the size and location of the clot(s), you may need emergency treatment and/or routine treatment.
Blood clots can be dangerous. They can damage the body and lead to serious problems, such as stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, deep vein thrombosis, or pulmonary embolism. Blood clots also can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, or pregnancy-related problems.
Emergency treatment to prevent these problems often consists of medicines that can quickly break up clots.
These medicines, called thrombolytics or "clot busters," are used to treat large clots that cause severe symptoms. These medicines can cause sudden bleeding. Thus, they're used only in life-threatening situations.
Anticoagulants, or "blood thinners," are used as routine treatment for excessive blood clotting. These medicines prevent blood clots from forming. They also keep existing blood clots from getting larger.
Blood thinners are taken as either a pill, an injection under the skin, or through a needle or tube inserted into a vein (called intravenous, or IV, injection).
Warfarin and heparin are two types of blood thinners. Warfarin is given in pill form. (Coumadin® is a common brand name for warfarin.) Heparin is given as an injection or through an IV tube.
Your doctor may treat you with both heparin and warfarin at the same time. Heparin acts quickly. Warfarin takes 2 to 3 days before it starts to work. Once the warfarin starts to work, the heparin is stopped.
Pregnant women are treated with heparin because warfarin can harm a fetus.
Sometimes aspirin is used with warfarin. In other cases, aspirin may be used alone. Aspirin also thins the blood and helps prevent blood clots.
Some people must take blood thinners for the rest of their lives if their risk of forming blood clots remains high.
Side effects. The most common side effect of blood thinners is bleeding. This happens if the medicine thins your blood too much. This side effect can be life threatening. Bleeding can occur inside your body (internal bleeding) or underneath or from the skin (external bleeding).
|Know the warning signs of bleeding, so you can get help right away. They include: