Medical education

Understanding the Different Types of Blood Thinners

Blood thinners are medicines that minimize the blood clot formation risk. They limit coagulation, which prevents the blood from clotting. Contrary to their name’s meaning, thinners do not thin the blood’s viscosity. These drugs help people check their heart health by decreasing the chances of stroke and heart attacks. Blood thinners work differently based on the severity of the consumer’s conditions.

Addressing a typical query, Can blood thinners make you tired? Understanding that side effects vary among individuals and depend on the specific medication used is essential. Some patients might experience fatigue, among other symptoms, but it’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider to manage and understand any potential side effects accurately.”

Different Types of Blood Thinners

Blood thinners come in different varieties, both new and old. However, all these thinners can be classified into Anticoagulants and Antiplatelets. Each of them affects the blood clotting process in different ways.

different types of blood thinners
  1. Anticoagulants:
    • Anticoagulants identify the clotting factors and target and disrupt them, slowing the process of clot formation in the body.
    • The most popular anticoagulants currently on the market are:
      • Coumadin (warfarin)
      • Eliquis (apixaban)
      • Heparin
      • Lovenox (enoxaparin)
      • Pradaxa (dabigatran)
      • Xarelto (rivaroxaban) and Savaysa (edoxaban)
  2. Antiplatelets:
    • Antiplatelets do not allow platelets to clump together, preventing a clot from forming.
    • The most prescribed antiplatelets in the current scenario are:
      • Aspirin
      • Brilinta (ticagrelor)
      • Effient (prasugrel)
      • Persantine (dipyridamole)
      • Plavix (clopidogrel)
Blood ThinnerMechanism of ActionRoute of AdministrationMonitoring RequirementsIndications
HeparinInhibits clotting factorsIntravenous or subcutaneousActivated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) or anti-factor Xa levelsDVT, PE, atrial fibrillation, cardiac surgeries
WarfarinInhibits vitamin K-dependent factorsOralInternational normalized ratio (INR)Atrial fibrillation, mechanical heart valves, DVT, PE
Direct Oral Anticoagulants (DOACs)Directly inhibit specific clotting factorsOralPeriodic assessments may be requiredDVT, PE, atrial fibrillation, stroke prevention
FondaparinuxInhibits factor XaSubcutaneousAnti-factor Xa levelsDVT, PE
Antiplatelet AgentsInhibit platelet aggregationOralNo routine monitoring requiredArterial blood clot prevention (heart attacks, strokes)
ArgatrobanDirect thrombin inhibitorIntravenousActivated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT)Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia
BivalirudinDirect thrombin inhibitorIntravenousActivated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT)Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)
DipyridamoleIncreases cAMP levels in plateletsOralNo routine monitoring requiredArterial blood clot prevention (combination therapy)
AcenocoumarolInhibits vitamin K-dependent factorsOralInternational normalized ratio (INR)Atrial fibrillation, mechanical heart valves, DVT, PE
PhenprocoumonInhibits vitamin K-dependent factorsOralOralAtrial fibrillation, mechanical heart valves, DVT, PE
StreptokinaseThrombolytic agentIntravenousNot applicableEmergency clot dissolution (heart attacks, strokes)
AlteplaseThrombolytic agentIntravenousNot applicableEmergency clot dissolution (heart attacks, strokes)

Effects of Various Blood Thinners

It is stressed enough that understanding the mechanism of blood thinners is vital for better health. Different types of blood thinners have different effects on a patient’s body, so taking the right kind of blood thinner is crucial in ensuring their effectiveness.

effects of blood thinners

Everyone might face varied effects apart from reduced levels of clotting risks. However, these are a few common thinners effects usually seen in patients.

  • Increasing Bleeding Risk
    • Blood thinners interfere with the process of blood clotting, which leads to an increased risk of bleeding.
    • One may experience nosebleeds, gastrointestinal bleeding, and prolonged healing of any external cuts. It may also cause internal bleeding.
  • Bruising
    • Bruising becomes a regular thing when you start taking blood thinners.
    • Minor injuries or trauma that could cause small bruises may turn into reasons for bigger bruises when you regularly consume blood thinners.
  • Hemorrhage
    • As said earlier, thinners can cause internal bleeding.
    • This internal bleeding can turn into a hemorrhage. Though this occurs rarely, it may occur spontaneously.
    • The cause might be an injury or something else, but one must seek immediate medical assistance.
  • Allergic Reactions
    • These are rare, but some patients might be allergic to some blood thinners causing them to show symptoms like rash, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, or chest tightness.
    • If any of these symptoms are observed, one must immediately seek medical assistance.
  • Drug Interactions
    • If a patient has more than one co-morbid condition, he/she might consume more than one medication.
    • These medications may interfere with the workings of the blood thinners leading to internal bleeding.
    • You must inform your healthcare provider regarding your medical history with drugs to avoid any mishaps with thinners.
  • Monitoring Effects
    • This one is more of a side effect on the financial side. A few thinners, like warfarin, require regular monitoring of parameters like the international normalized ratio (INR) to ensure they are within the desired therapeutic range. However, it’s important to note that the financial implications of these monitoring tests and potential doctor visits can be significant factors to consider when discussing the overall side effects of blood thinners.
    • Regular adjustments of the dosage and blood tests to check the progress are a must which can be a bit expensive.
  • Organ Defects
    • Different types of Blood Thinners affect the body in unique ways.
    • For instance, the ones metabolizing the liver are said to harm the liver. Others may affect the kidney. One must get the dosage set accordingly.
  • Other Side Effects
    • Apart from the effects mentioned above, other symptoms could be observed.
    • Effects like gastrointestinal unrest, experiencing blood blisters from bruising, hair loss, dizziness, and headache have been reported.
    • Other symptoms like:
      • Bleeding more than expected during menstruation.
      • Coughing up blood.
      • Cuts that won’t stop bleeding.
      • Nosebleeds or bleeding gums that won’t stop.
      • Severe headaches or stomach pains that won’t go away.
      • Stools turning red, dark brown, or black.
      • Urine turning dark red or dark brown.
    • have been noticed. If in case, you experience any of these symptoms; you must contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

The Bottom Line

Understanding how different types of blood thinners work can help you know your drugs better. With the apt knowledge of the medicines you are consuming, you can keep a check on side effects that you may experience and maximize the effectiveness of the drug.

Frequently Asked Question

What to limit when taking blood thinners?

There’s a long list of dietary items that you must avoid once you start taking blood thinners. Items like:
Antifungal Medications
Coenzyme Q10
Ginkgo Biloba
NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
St. John’s Wort
Thyroid Medications
Vitamin E
Vitamin K

When are blood thinners prescribed?

Blood thinners are prescribed when the blood seems thick enough to form clots in veins, leading to heart attacks. Your healthcare provider may recommend you a blood thinner if you experience:
trial fibrillation (AFib)
Blood vessel disease, such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE)
Congenital heart defects
Heart disease
Heart valve replacement surgery
After surgery, when blood clots are a concern.

Which is the safest blood thinner?

Warfarin. According to ACC, Warfarin is the best blood thinner for those with mechanical heart valves.

Brie Larson

Dr. Brie Larson, a seasoned physician, brings a wealth of medical knowledge and a strong commitment to patient education to her role at Medical Grants Help. A graduate from Stanford University School of Medicine, she has honed her expertise through years of patient care, delivering comprehensive healthcare services for individuals of all ages. Brie has a particular interest in expanding access to medical services through grants and funding initiatives. With her broad-based medical experience and a passion for patient advocacy, she navigates the complexities of medical grants, striving to make them more accessible for those in need. A steadfast believer in the transformative power of medical grants, Dr. Larson guides readers through the often overwhelming world of funding options, simplifying the process for patients and their families.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button