How are hypercoagulable states treated?
In most cases, treatment is only needed when a blood clot develops in a vein or artery. Anticoagulants decrease the blood’s ability to clot and prevent the formation of additional clots.
Anticoagulant medications include:
- Warfarin (Coumadin) comes in tablet form and is taken orally (by mouth).
- Heparin is a liquid medication and is given either through an intravenous (IV) line that delivers the medication directly into the vein, or by subcutaneous (under the skin) injections given in the hospital.
- Low-molecular weight heparin is injected subcutaneously once or twice a day and can be taken at home.
- Fondaparinux (Arixtra) is injected subcutaneously.
You and your family will be instructed on how to take the anticoagulant medication that is prescribed.
Your doctor will talk to you about the benefits and risks of these medications. This information, along with your diagnosis, will help determine the type of anticoagulant medication you will take, how long you will need to take it, and the type of follow-up monitoring you need.
As with any medication, it is important to know how and when to take your anticoagulant according to your doctor’s guidelines, and to have frequent blood tests, as ordered by your doctor.
If you're prescribed warfarin (Coumadin):
- You will need to have frequent blood tests, called the PT-INR, to evaluate how well the medication is working. Please keep all scheduled lab appointments so your response to the medication can be monitored. Your medications may be changed or adjusted based on the results of this test.
- You should order and wear a medical identification bracelet so you can receive proper medical care in case of an emergency situation.
- You may bleed or bruise more easily when you are injured. Call your doctor if you experience heavy or unusual bleeding or bruising.
- Certain nonprescription (over-the-counter) medications affect how anticoagulants work. Do not take any other medications without first talking to your doctor.
- Ask your doctor about specific dietary guidelines you'll need to follow while taking warfarin. Certain foods, such as foods high in vitamin K (found in brussel sprouts, spinach and broccoli) can change the way the medication works.
- You should not take warfarin (Coumadin) if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant. If you are, ask your doctor about switching to a different type of anticoagulant medication. Doctors vary in quality due to differences in training and experience; hospitals differ in the number of services available. The more complex your medical problem, the greater these differences in quality become and the more they matter.