Staying Safe, Healthy While Taking Blood Thinners

Heart Health News     Fall 2017

Any time we add a medication to our daily routine, it is good to think about how it can affect our lives and consider any changes we might need to make. Blood thinning medication is no different. 

Though blood thinners can be lifesaving by preventing our blood from clotting, they can also be life changing.

Oftentimes, doctors will recommend taking a blood thinner for various kinds of heart or blood vessel diseases or if you have poor blood flow to your brain, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Some examples of specific reasons blood thinners might be needed, according to the NIH, include:

Blood thinners can reduce our risk of a heart attack and stroke by reducing the formation of blood clots in our arteries and veins, according to the NIH. 

But, like with a lot of medications, it’s important that we take steps to stay healthy. A few small lifestyle changes can make a big difference. 

The National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA) recommends we make some of the following changes to our lives once we start taking a blood thinner:

  • Avoid herbs and dietary supplements – The number of vitamins and minerals in herbs and supplements can change the way your blood thinner works. Avoid taking these until you get your doctor’s OK.
  • Have a consistent diet – While eating a balanced diet is always a good idea, eating a consistent diet is very important while taking a blood thinner. Making sudden changes to your diet – as well as adding some foods high in vitamin K such as kale and prunes – can interfere with your blood thinner.
  • Limit alcohol – Hard liquor, wine, and beer all can affect how some blood thinners work. Avoid drinking too much alcohol at one time.
  • No over-the-counter medications – Popping an over-the-counter pain reliever for a headache can be dangerous if you are also taking a blood thinner. Before taking any over-the-counter medication, talk with your doctor.
  • Reach out to your doctor – When in doubt, talk to your doctor. Any time you have questions about how the blood thinner works or what you can do to stay safe while taking it, talk your physician’s office for answers.

It is also important to take extra care while on blood thinners. With this type of medication, even a small cut can lead to excessive bleeding, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

You can also be bleeding without seeing any blood. For example, if you are taking blood thinners and you hit your head, but there is no cut, it is still important to get checked for possible bleeding inside your head, according to the HHS. 

Help keep yourself safe from bleeding by following these HHS recommendations:

  • Wear non-skid shoes or slippers, and always wear shoes outside
  • Avoid activities and sports that can easily cause injuries
  • Be extra careful with knives, scissors, and other sharp objects

Overall, remember that blood thinners are helpful, necessary medications. But, it is important to follow the lifestyle changes that go along with taking blood thinners to stay safe and healthy.

For more information about using blood thinners, talk with your doctor or visit to find a physician. 

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