Anticoagulants Control Blood Clotting
Anticoagulation medication helps control how fast your blood clots, which helps prevent clots from forming inside your heart, arteries or veins. Anticoagulants can also prevent existing clots from getting larger or from breaking off and traveling to your major organs.
Blood Tests with Anticoagulants
Once you begin taking anticoagulation medications, you will need regular blood tests to determine if the medication is working. You will go to a laboratory about once a month for the clotting-time tests and your doctor will use the test results to determine whether to change your anticoagulant medication dosage. There are also home self-testing kits available. St. Jude Medical works with Philips Remote Cardiac Services and HemoSense to provide patient self-testing services to physicians and patients with mechanical heart valves. Visit inrselftest.com or hemosense.com to learn more.
Watching Your Diet, Other Medications and Vitamins
Certain prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, foods and alcohol may affect how warfarin works, so it is important to discuss all of your medications, vitamin supplements and your diet with your doctor. Some slight modifications may be necessary.
Before you have a medical or dental procedure, be sure to tell your doctor or dentist that you have an implanted device and are taking warfarin. You may need to make a short-term adjustment in your anticoagulant medication before the procedure.
Fact vs. Fiction About Anticoagulants
While some people have strong feelings about the risks of anticoagulants, warfarin is one of the most frequently prescribed drugs in the U.S., with more than 17.8 million prescriptions dispensed annually.1 New medications are also being introduced. A significant percentage of patients undergoing mitral valve surgery also have atrial fibrillation (AF), which requires patients to be on anticoagulation.2 Fortunately, St. Jude Medical® mechanical heart valves have been studied for over 25 years and consistently demonstrate low anticoagulant-related complications.3,4
Studies have shown that anticoagulation can be managed safely for patients of all ages and in fact, perform well in selected older patients with no increased risk of bleeding or thromboembolism.5
Anticoagulation-related complications can be further reduced through patient self-testing. A randomized study showed a reduced complication with international normalized ratio (INR) self-management when compared to conventional management in the clinic.6 INR is a blood test that measures the time it takes for blood to clot and compares it to an average.
St. Jude Medical is a strong supporter of patient self-testing and works with Philips Remote Cardiac Services and HemoSense to provide patient self-testing services to physicians and patients with mechanical heart valves. Visit inrselftest.com or hemosense.com to learn more.
Coumadin® is a registered trademark of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
Last Reviewed: January 19, 2010 2506