Anticoagulation Medication

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Blood thinners (anticoagulation medication) prevents blood clots from forming on your new heart valve. Medication, food and alcohol can affect how the anticoagulant works, so make sure to make sure you fully understand how to use anticoagulants before you leave the hospital.


When you wake up from your heart valve replacement surgery (for a mechanical or a tissue valve), your doctor and nursing staff will talk to you about anticoagulation medication. This medication is needed to prevent blood clots from forming on your new tissue or mechanical heart valve. You will most likely receive an intravenous anticoagulant during your heart valve surgery. As you recover, you will begin taking oral anticoagulants. To maintain proper levels of anticoagulation, take your medication as prescribed and follow up with blood tests as scheduled.

Possible Complications

Check with your physician if you are on anticoagulants and experience any of the following:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Excessive bruising
  • Blood in your urine
  • Bloody or black, tarry stool
  • Unusual nosebleeds
  • Bleeding gums
  • Pregnancy or trying to become pregnant
  • Fever or other illnesses that include vomiting, diarrhea or infection

Take only those medications that are prescribed by your doctor. Anticoagulants may be affected by other medicines, so always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any other medication, including over-the-counter products such as aspirin.

Certain foods and alcohol may also affect how your anticoagulant works, so it is important to discuss your diet with your doctor. For some patients, slight modifications may be necessary.

Last Reviewed: January 19, 2010 2506