Anticoagulant / Blood Thinner

Anticoagulant / Blood Thinner: Overview

A blood thinner is a type of drug that reduces the blood's tendency to clot (coagulate).  Anticoagulants may be used as a medication for thrombotic disorders, or to stop clotting in medical equipment such as test tubes, blood transfusion bags, or renal dialysis equipment.

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Heparin (usually made from pig intestines) acts by activating antithrombin III, which blocks thrombin from clotting blood.  Heparin can be injected into a patient, or mixed with blood or plasma to prevent clotting in medical devices.  "Low molecular weight heparin" is a more processed product that is more predictable and has fewer side-effects.

Another type of anticoagulant is the direct thrombin inhibitor.

Function; Why it is Recommended

Oral anticoagulants are drugs that act by interfering with the physiological action of vitamin K.

Generally, anticoagulants are used to treat patients with deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism, atrial fibrillation, and mechanical prosthetic heart valves.


In cases when an immediate effect is required, heparin must be given at the same time.

Expected Outcome

These drugs take at least 48-72 hours for their anticoagulant effect to develop fully.

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Anticoagulant / Blood Thinner:

Anticoagulant / Blood Thinner can help with the following:


Not recommended for
Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Drugs that reduce the blood's tendency to clot (anticoagulants) or that dissolve clots once they have formed (thrombolytics or tissue plasminogen activator) can cause gastrointestinal bleeding.

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Anticoagulant / Blood Thinner can help prevent the following:


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Very useful: usually prevents
Very useful:
usually prevents
Often counterindicated: is often not recommended for
Often counterindicated:
is often not recommended for
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