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.
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.
Oral anticoagulants are drugs that act by interfering with the physiological action of vitamin K.
In cases when an immediate effect is required, heparin must be given at the same time.
These drugs take at least 48-72 hours for their anticoagulant effect to develop fully.
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