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Anticoagulants are drugs that work to stop blood clots from forming. To halt bleeding from wounds, the blood forms a seal known as a blood clot. While they are helpful in stopping bleeding, if they form in the wrong location, they can block blood vessels and prevent blood from reaching organs like the brain, heart, or lungs.
Anticoagulants are generally prescribed to people who are at risk of getting blood clots. This is to attempt to reduce their chances of developing dangerous health issues such as heart attacks or strokes. They are typically given to people who have had a history of developing blood clots or someone who has recently undergone surgery. If you feel you are in need anticoagulant medication, make sure to use our ‘ask a pharmacist’ service to receive professional medical guidance.
When used properly and under a healthcare professional’s supervision, anticoagulants can be both safe and efficient. However, they have potential side effects and should be used cautiously, just like any medication. Ensure that you are ordering medication from a licenced pharmacy, you can do this by checking on the General Pharmaceutical Council website.
The speed at which the medication takes to fully work is entirely dependent on multiple factors, including the type of medication, the amount of medication taken, the persons medical history and the person’s lifestyle, which includes how often they exercise and their diet.
Anticoagulants are not known to cause high blood pressure, however there is the possibility that if taken with another medication the side effects from them interreacting could be a raising in blood pressure. It’s important to let your GP or pharmacist know of any other medication you’re taking during your consultation, so they can prescribe the appropriate medication.
Most types of anticoagulants are not usually recommended to take while pregnant. However, in some circumstances you may be prescribed a specific type of anticoagulation treatment based on your circumstances. If you are pregnant or are planning on becoming pregnant soon, then it’s important you raise this with your GP or pharmacist so they can advise you in the best way possible.
As with any medication, there are risks of experiencing side effects when taking anticoagulants.
Common side effects include:
If you are experiencing any of these side effects, then you should speak to a medical professional right away, so that they can advise you on how best to address the issue.
How long you should take anticoagulation medication for is dependent on multiple factors, such as medical condition, medical history and lifestyle. You should always follow the instructions given to you by the medical professional prescribing you the medication.
One of the main side effects of taking anticoagulants is bleeding, this is because the medication thins the blood to stop blood clots from forming, so therefore if someone was to bleed, clots would be unlikely to form easily so a loss of blood is possible. If you have been prescribed anticoagulation medication, then you must be vigilant and cautious with the potential of common types of bleeding becoming excessive or persistent.
If you are experiencing bleeding, you should call NHS 111 or speak to your GP or pharmacist right away.
Yes, Anticoagulants are also commonly referred to as blood thinners.
If you stop taking anticoagulation medication, then there is a risk that you could develop blood clots that are extremely serious and would put your health at serious risk. If you wanted to stop taking the medication, then it is advised you speak to your GP or pharmacist before you do.
While hair loss is not a common side effect of anticoagulants, it can be a side effect of certain types of anticoagulants, particularly warfarin. If you are concerned about hair loss when taking medication, you should speak to your GP or pharmacist.
Birth control pills containing oestrogen are acceptable for use by women who are already receiving anticoagulant medication or blood thinners. However, anticoagulation may render women more susceptible to monthly heavy menstrual bleeding or ovulation-related haemorrhage. If you experience significant menstrual bleeding while taking anticoagulants while on contraception, it’s important that you consult your GP or pharmacist.
All patients should be given an anticoagulant alert card which is like an ID, but it details everything about you and your medical history that is related to you being on anticoagulants. This is so that if a medical emergency were to occur, paramedics would be able to know how to treat you safely. They are also vital when the medical emergency means you are unable to communicate the information to the medical professional. You should ask your GP or pharmacist if you are eligible for an alert card.
While it’s likely you can still physically play sports, it’s extremely dangerous due to the risk of obtaining injuries that can cause bleeding. Non-contact sports or exercise is advised, such as running, walking or using a stationary exercise bike.
This is dependent on the type of medication you are on, the dosage you’re taking and how it affects your ability to operate a vehicle. This should be spoken about with your GP or pharmacist before taking any medication. If you’ve taken anticoagulant medication and are feeling dizzy, lightheaded or lacking concentration then you should wait and drive after the side effects have gone.
Yes, most people with diabetes can take anticoagulation medication. It will be dependent on the severeness of your condition and the type of medication your GP or pharmacist decides to prescribe you.
You can drink alcohol while on anticoagulation medication, but it is important you don’t drink more than the dose advised by your GP or pharmacist. Alcohol also acts as a blood thinner so if an accident were to occur while both alcohol and blood thinners are in your body, the risk of excessive bleeding would increase substantially.
Anticoagulation medication can be known to interact with other common medications, so it is important that you inform your GP or pharmacist so they can decide which medication is most suitable to you based on the medication you may already be on.
Most anticoagulants come in tablet or capsule form, with the amount you take and how often they should be taken being dependent on what your GP or Pharmacist has instructed.