The Anticoagulation Clinic at Baystate Wing Hospital helps you stay safe and healthy as you take medications to prevent blood clots.
Our experienced pharmacists and nurses are specially trained to coordinate anticoagulation therapy. We’ll work closely with you to minimize any complications.
- INR tests — The international normalized ratio (INR) is a simple finger stick. It’s a lab test that measures how long it takes your blood to clot. Your results tell us how well the anticoagulant is working for you. Your INR is reviewed by an advanced practitioner or registered nurse. We follow up with any dosage instructions for you.
- Warfarin alternatives — If you must take an anticoagulant due to a surgery, but you cannot take warfarin (Coumadin), we will work with you to find the best solution.
Anticoagulants like warfarin (Coumadin) lower your body’s ability to make blood clots. They do this by stopping vitamin K from doing its part to make blood clots.
Some blood clots are good. For example, when a group of blood cells stick together (coagulate), they slow or stop bleeding.
Harmful blood clots happen when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel and stops the flow of blood. They can cause serious problems, including a heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or pulmonary embolism.
Doctors typically prescribe an anticoagulant after a serious heart problem or to prevent a heart condition, including:
- Atrial fibrillation
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Heart attack
- Heart valve replacement
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Pulmonary embolism
- Valvular heart disease
- Pulmonary hypertension
Anticoagulation drugs make you bleed more easily. This means they can cause hemorrhages (heavy bleeding), which can be dangerous.
The side effects of warfarin (Coumadin) include:
- Minor bleeding — occasional nosebleeds, easy bruising, heavy bleeding during your period (menorrhagia), bleeding gums during brushing.
- Major bleeding — red or dark brown urine, dark stool, severe headaches, frequent bleeding, unexplained bruising.
It’s important to get medical help if you have a serious accident. There’s a chance that your bleeding won’t stop or that a hit on your head has caused bleeding you can’t see.
To help you avoid life-threatening complications if you are taking an anticoagulant, follow these safety tips:
- Tell all of your doctors and nurses that you take warfarin (Coumadin).
- Always carry a list of all current medications — over-the-counter drugs and vitamins as well as prescriptions.
- Wear a medical alert bracelet that says you take warfarin (Coumadin).
- Be careful if you take part in physical sports. Wear a helmet, gloves, and any other recommended safety gear.
- Prevent falls by avoiding slippery surfaces, wearing proper shoes, and securing any loose cords or rugs in your home.
- Go to the hospital when you are badly hurt. Remember to tell your cardiologist and primary doctor about your visit to the hospital.
- Tell your doctors and nurses if you think you are pregnant.
- Do not drink alcohol.
- Take your warfarin (Coumadin) at the same every day.
It’s also important to keep your lifestyle habits steady while you are taking warfarin (Coumadin). Changes in your medication, diet, and weight may change your dosage. If you are on an anticoagulation drug:
- Do not start a weight loss program.
- Do not take a new vitamin or supplement.
- Avoid taking aspirin, vitamins, prescriptions, and antibiotics that your doctor hasn’t approved.
- Do not change your eating habits. Keep the level of vitamin K in your diet steady.
- Call your doctor if you are unable to eat for a few days.