Life with Blood Thinners

As part of my treatment for antiphospholipid syndrome, and to prevent future blood clots, I take anticoagulants, also known as blood thinners. I take warfarin, although there are several different types of blood thinners available. Life with blood thinners can be overwhelming at first, but eventually, you can still live a very normal life with these medications.

Blood thinners do not actually thin your blood, and they do not heal or dissolve blood clots. They do help to prevent new blood clots from forming, or old blood clots from breaking apart and causing a problem, like a pulmonary embolism (PE), or blood clot in the lung. As with any medication, there are risks with taking blood thinners. The most common risk is unwanted, or even dangerous bleeding.

Different types of blood thinners have different lifestyle adjustments that may need to be made. For example, some foods (like foods high in vitamin K) and supplements can interact with warfarin, which is one of the reasons why people on this medication have to get their INR (international normalized ratio) tested, either from a vein blood draw or fingerstick, on a regular basis to ensure warfarin is working to prevent future blood clots. This testing has become a part of my regular life, but some people struggle to constantly monitor their blood on warfarin.

If you have to take a blood thinner, it is important to understand that you most likely have options. Work with your healthcare team to ensure you are receiving the medication and treatment that is right for you and your situation. It can take some adjustment to get used to life with blood thinners, but living your best life with these medications is possible. You can still do the things you love, you just might need to be more careful, and seek medical attention as soon as possible if you have any questions or concerns, or if you experience bleeding.

Taking any medication for months, years, or long-term can feel scary and overwhelming. Here are my tips for living your best life with blood thinners.

If you take a blood thinner, you should consider wearing a medical ID in the event you experience a medical emergency (clotting or bleeding) and cannot share important health information about your health history and medications with healthcare professionals. Most bleeding incidents on blood thinners are not life-threatening, but it’s a good idea to be prepared in the event of an emergency. Make sure doctors know how to treat you.

Injury and illness are scary, especially if you are taking a blood thinner. Here are some of my experiences with both.

From medication affordability to tattoos, check out these resources for answers to common questions you may have.