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Anticoagulation Management

COR Healthcare Medical Associates

Cardiology, Interventional Cardiology & Electrophysiology located in Torrance, CA, Manhattan Beach, CA, San Pedro, CA, Redondo Beach, CA & El Segundo, CA

If you have a congenital heart defect or a heart disorder, you might need to take blood-thinning medications called anticoagulants. Managing these medications requires expert monitoring, which the experienced team of board-certified cardiologists at COR Healthcare Medical Associates in Torrance, San Pedro, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach and El Segundo, California, can provide. They have considerable expertise in anticoagulation management to make sure you stay healthy and are on the best dose for your circumstances. Call our Los Angeles offices today for more information or book an appointment online.

Anticoagulation Management Q & A

What are anticoagulants?

Anticoagulants are medications that thin your blood. You might need to take blood thinners because of:

  • Congenital heart defects
  • Heart valve replacements
  • Heart rhythm disorders
  • Complicated surgeries

Anticoagulants make your blood thinner, helping to prevent the formation of blood clots. Blood clots are a serious complication in cardiology patients. They can cause obstruction of the valves and lead to stroke if they travel to your brain.

How do I take anticoagulants?

There are three ways to take anticoagulant medication:

Oral anticoagulants

Aspirin, warfarin, and clopidogrel are the three main oral anticoagulants. They work by disrupting the activity of platelets in your blood — they stop your body from producing substances that cause clotting.

Aspirin has the mildest effect and tends not to cause as many bleeding complications. However, it can upset your stomach. Neither aspirin or clopidogrel requires blood test monitoring, but warfarin does because it’s both the most effective oral blood thinner and also the one most likely to cause bleeding problems.

Intravenous anticoagulants

If you need to undergo surgery of any kind when you’re taking anticoagulants, you might need to come off the long-acting oral medications for a while. This is because of the risk of bleeding during the operation when you’re on blood thinners.

To maintain the anticlotting you need for your heart condition, you might need to have intravenous heparin before the surgery. Heparin works quickly but also wears off quickly, which means it’s safer to use leading up to surgery.

Subcutaneous anticoagulants

Sometimes you might need blood-thinning treatment for a longer period when taking oral anticoagulants isn’t advisable, for example, if you’re pregnant. Your provider can inject heparin or low-molecular-weight heparin subcutaneously — under your skin — which means you don’t have to have an intravenous line.

What is anticoagulant management?

Taking anticoagulant medication could be vital for the health of your heart and might be keeping you alive. However, it does have potential side effects, particularly uncontrollable bleeding.

Anticoagulant management is a way of keeping you on the most effective, safest doses to reduce your risk of complications while protecting your heart.

If you take warfarin, your provider at COR Healthcare Medical Associates carries out regular tests called INRs (international normalized ratio) to see how fast your blood is clotting. They can then adjust your dosage to ensure the INR is at the optimum level for your heart.

You also need to have regular tests if you’re taking heparin or low-molecular-weight heparin.

Warfarin can interact with other medications, changing the INR. You should avoid:

  • Most antibiotics
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Cimetidine for acid reflux

Unless your provider tells you to, you shouldn’t take aspirin at the same time as warfarin.

Anticoagulant management is essential if you’re taking blood-thinning drugs. Call COR Healthcare Medical Associates today to find out more or book an appointment online.