Anticoagulants for Coronary Artery Disease
Direct thrombin inhibitors (only used in the hospital)
How It Works
Anticoagulants are often called blood thinners, but they don't really thin blood. They work by increasing the time it takes for a blood clot to form. This prevents an existing clot from increasing in size, thereby preventing a heart attack or stroke.
Why It Is Used
Anticoagulants are often used to prevent blood clots from forming in the heart during or after a heart attack. Anticoagulants also may be given after angioplasty to help prevent a new blood clot after the procedure.
How Well It Works
Anticoagulants are effective in reducing the rate of stroke and recurrent heart attack in people who are having a heart attack. Anticoagulants may lessen the risk of heart attack in people with unstable angina or those who have recently had angioplasty with or without stenting.
Anticoagulants also reduce the risk of stroke in people who have recently had a large heart attack on the front wall of the heart.
Bleeding is the most common side effect of anticoagulants.
Know the signs of bleeding
Call your doctor right away if:
If you are injured, apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Realize that it will take longer than you are used to for the bleeding to stop. If you can't get the bleeding to stop, call your doctor.
Warfarin may also cause a skin rash.
Heparin shots may cause irritation, pain, or bruising at the injection site.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
When you take anticoagulants, you need to take extra steps to avoid bleeding problems.
Warfarin. If you take warfarin, you need to:
For more information, see:
Heparin. If you take heparin, you need to:
Pregnancy. Do not take warfarin if you are pregnant or may become pregnant. If you are taking warfarin and think you may be pregnant, call your doctor. Warfarin can cause birth defects. If you become pregnant while taking warfarin, your doctor may recommend that you switch to a low-molecular-weight form of heparin while you are pregnant. Long-term use of these heparin formulations is not recommended, because it is associated with osteoporosis and thrombocytopenia.
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