What is Coumadin Therapy?
Warfarin (brand names Coumadin and Jantoven) is a medication designed to prevent harmful blood clots from growing or becoming larger. Beneficial blood clots prevent fatal bleeding. However, harmful blood clots can cause a heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, or infarction.
Warfarin interferes with the formation of all blood clots, and is called an anticoagulant, commonly referred to as blood thinners. However, Warfarin does not thin the blood, but rather, causes the blood to take longer to clot.
What can Coumadin Therapy Treat?
Coumadin can treat blood clots such as in a deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolus, or prevent the forming of new clots in the body. It prevents harmful blood clots and helps reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack. Conditions that predispose you for developing blood clots include irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation), heart valve replacement, recent heart attack, and surgeries.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Coumadin Therapy?
Different anticoagulants are better for different patients. For patients having problems with their current agent, switching to a new generation may be a better choice. While taking Coumadin, it is important to avoid taking antifungals (such as Ketoconazole) and NSAIDs (such as Ibuprofen), which can put the patient at an increased risk for bleeding.
Other medications and dietary supplements that your doctor may advise you to avoid include:
- Aspirin or Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (ALEVE, Advil, Motrin, Ibuprofen, etc)
- Herbal products or natural remedies and nutritional supplements
- Products containing vitamin K
Other food and drink items to avoid while on Coumadin include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Mustard greens
- Green tea
- Cranberry juice
In order for your healthcare provider to determine the correct dosage, it is necessary to have regular blood tests. These tests are performed in a laboratory or anticoagulation clinic, usually once a week to once a month, as directed. For this reason, it is important to have regular access to a vehicle or someone who can drive you to an appointment. If you cannot meet this requirement, a different anticoagulant may be better for you.
Additionally, for patients who overdose on Coumadin, a prothrombin complex concentrate in a dosage of 50-100 units is recommended. Commonly referred to as an antidote for Coumadin, this prevents patients from bleeding fatally if too much Coumadin is in their system.
What to Expect
It is important to take Coumadin exactly as it is prescribed. Never increase or decrease your dose unless instructed to do so by your healthcare provider. If a dose is missed or forgotten, call your healthcare provider for advice.
When you are taking Coumadin, you are more likely to bleed, even from daily operations. It is important to be mindful during daily activities, even during activities you have always done, to try and avoid injury as much as possible.
Length of Therapy
The length of treatment will be determined by your healthcare provider.
Generally, staying on Coumadin is recommended for people with enlarged heart chambers, those who have had an extensive heart attack, those with prosthetic or mechanic heart valves, or those who have experienced an embolic stroke.
AMA Medical Group was founded to support every member of the community. If you are taking Coumadin and have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at (727) 331-8740 to schedule an appointment.