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Blood Thinning Medications

Coumadin (Warfarin) and other Blood Thinners


If you are taking Coumadin or its generic equivalent, Warfarin, or another blood thinning medication, it is important that you follow your doctor's instructions very precisely. This medication is often prescribed for patients who have undergone valve replacement surgery, have an irregular heartbeat or have had a heart attack. While it is one of today's most important therapies, it has the potential for adverse reactions with other drugs and serious side effects if taken incorrectly. Below are some guidelines to follow. Remember, these guidelines are not comprehensive. You should visit with your doctor anytime you have a question regarding the use of this medication, anytime you are considering taking another drug (including over-the-counter medications) and anytime you experience a side effect or a symptom you question.


What is Coumadin?


Blood thinning medications (also called "anticoagulants") are used to decrease the ability of the blood to form clots. This is necessary when an artificial valve is placed due to the danger of clots forming on the valve itself. It can also decrease the risk of another heart attack, stroke and possibly death and lowers the risk of clots moving into other parts of the body. Your doctor may have additional reasons for prescribing it not listed here.


Taking Your Coumadin



  • Take your medication at the same time every day. If you forget to take your Coumadin, take it as soon as you remember on the same day and call your                   doctor. DO NOT take a double dose. This can increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Take a regular blood test (Prothrombin Time or INR) to see how your blood is clotting.
  • Discuss all medications you are taking with your doctor or pharmacist. Even over-the-counter medications (such as aspirin and simple cold medications) can have serious, adverse interactions with Coumadin.

Do Not:

  • DO NOT take two doses of Coumadin at the same time! This can produce a serious, even deadly, result. Call your doctor if you miss a dose.
  • DO NOT take two blood thinners at the same time. Coumadin and Warfarin look different but do the same thing. Make sure they are never taken together.
  • DO NOT take the following medications or any herbal products without checking with your doctor:
    • acetaminophen (Tylenol)
    • ibuprofen (Nuprin, Motrin, Advil)
    • aspirin
    • aspirin containing ointments and skin cream
    • naproxen (Aleve)                                                     
    • Tagamet, Zantac                                                      
    • vitamin K supplements
    • alternative medicine, herbal medicine
    • high doses of vitamin C or vitamin E


Blood Tests


You will be asked to have regular blood tests to see if your Coumadin is working effectively. Your dosages will be regulated according to the blood test results.


Your Diet


Vitamin K helps your body make clots. Foods with large amounts of vitamin K can affect the way your medication works. You do not need to avoid foods with large amounts of vitamin K, just keep your diet consistent.


Alcohol can also effect your medication and should be avoided.




Try to keep your activities similar from day to day. Visit with your doctor if you plan to travel and before participating in any sports that may cause injury that could lead to excessive bleeding or bruising.


 Related Information
 Common Cardiac Medications
 Blood Thinning Medications
 When to Call Your Doctor

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