Top 10 Blood Thinner Medications
Blood thinner medications are used in order to prevent the further formation of dangerous blood clots. Sometimes they are used after a clot has formed and following thrombolytic therapy. Other times, such as in the case of some blood clotting disorders, their use is strictly preventative in nature. This can be true in persons with risk factors like smoking or using birth control pills as well, where an attempt to thin the blood is made in order to reduce the risk of abnormal clotting.
One of the most common clotting conditions is a DVT, short for deep vein thrombosis. This condition occurs when a clot develops in the lower parts of the leg and is deep inside. The symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include redness, swelling, pain and tenderness and a warm sensation in the affected area. Hospitalization is often required in order for intravenous medications to be administered, but this treatment is often followed by the use of blood thinner medications.
Serious complications can arise from a DVT or a clot that forms elsewhere in the body and then breaks apart and travels to other areas. Sometimes these mobile clots can end up in the lungs where a pulmonary embolism can result. This is a very serious health concern and requires immediate medical treatment. Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, chest pain and decreased blood pressure amongst others. Typically treatment involves the close proximity injection of medications to help break apart the clot making it easier for the body to dissolve. As with a DVT, this treatment is often followed with the oral use of blood thinner medications.
Other complications that can arise from a clot include an ischemic stroke, which occurs when an artery in the brain is blocked. This can restrict blood flow to the brain and result in brain cell death in as little as a few minutes. It is not uncommon for blood thinning medications to be employed following an ischemic stroke when a blood clot has been identified as the cause.
It is very important that when blood thinner medications are prescribed that they are taken as directed. Although there is some concern about blood thinners side effects, especially with mainstays like Warfarin, they are used in persons where the benefits outweigh the potential risks associated with using them. Some may consider natural blood thinners in alternatively to prescription medications, however while there are some natural choices like foods and herbs that are able to thin blood effectively, they are no substitute for medical treatment and care. It is absolutely essential to receive medical attention for blood clots and to follow the advice of a health care provider as well as reduce lifestyle factors that may contribute to an increased risk of clots. This includes quitting smoking and losing weight, some common answers to the question of what causes blood clots. With medical care, counseling and advice and lifestyle changes, as well as one of many different types of blood thinner medications, the risk of clots can be reduced substantially, and we’ve compiled a list of the top ten medications used for this purpose to provide more information on how they help to stave off the formation of abnormal clots.
- Aspirin: Many people are familiar with the daily dose of aspirin that is commonly recommended by health care professionals in order to prevent platelets from clumping together and forming clots. Although there is an almost never ending flow of new blood thinner medications emerging on the market, aspirin remains a commonly used preventative tool.
- Warfarin (Coumadin): Coumadin is one of the most well known medications used to thin the blood. It is an anti coagulant that is also used in some cases to prevent heart disease.
- Pradaxa: Pradaxa is a newer medication that is used primarily in people who have an arterial fibrillation. It is geared towards preventing blood clots and strokes.
- Elequis: Lowering the risk of both blood clots and strokes is essentially the purpose of Elequis, a relatively new drug that is thought to be a competitor to the side effect laden Coumadin.
- Xarelto: Especially useful in recipients of hip replacements and knee replacements, Xarelto is a newcomer amongst blood thinner medications. It is also been approved for use in cases of DVT as well as pulmonary embolisms.
- Plavix (Clopidogrel): Plavix works by preventing coagulation of the platelets in the blood. It is especially suited for people who have certain medical conditions and heart conditions. It is also used as a preventative tool against the formation of clots in persons who have had a heart attack or stroke.
- Prasugrel: In people who have been treated with angioplasty, Prasugrel may be used in conjunction with aspirin to prevent the formation of clots. Like aspirin, Prasugrel is an anti-platelet medication.
- Brilinta: Brilinta is typically prescribed following a heart attack and can be used in conjunction with aspirin. It has been proven effective at reducing the chance of recurring heart attacks in people who have had them before and the medication is thought to further reduce the risk of recurrent heart attacks with continued use.
- Cilostazol: Cilostazol is used to improve the flow of blood to the legs and can help assist with reducing the symptoms of intermittent claudication. Like some of the other blood thinner medications on our top ten list, Cilostazol is an antiplatelet medication, whereby it is used to prevent the platelets in the blood from clumping together.
- Aggrenox: Aggrenox is essentially a prescription super aspirin. It is a combination of two medicines, aspirin and dipyridamole. In people who have had blood clots, the medication can help to reduce the risk of stroke and the drug is also used in persons who have had mini strokes as well.