Blood Thinner Medications 2018-07-02T11:49:02+00:00

Blood Thinner Medications

Blood Thinner Medications

Some patients who take blood thinner medications choose to use home blood monitoring systems like the Alere INRatio or Alere INRatio2 to manage their anticoagulant drug dosages. What these patients may not know is that each time they use the Alere INRatio device, they are potentially putting their lives in danger.

The Alere INRatio home monitoring system has been recalled by the manufacturer because it is inaccurate. Studies have shown that international normalized ratio (INR) results from Alere INRatio devices can be between 3.1 and 12.2 units lower than laboratory results when the tests were performed within one to one day of each other.

A number of patients who received inaccurate INR readings from the Alere INRatio sustained serious injuries after taking the incorrect dose of anticoagulants. If you have been harmed as a result of using the Alere INRatio home monitoring system, you may be entitled to compensation. To learn more about filing an Alere INRatio lawsuit, contact the personal injury attorneys at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman today.

What Are Blood Thinner Medications?

Blood thinner medications have been around for well over half a century. They are used to reduce the likelihood of blood clot formations, which can lead to heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular death. Blood thinner medications are most commonly used as a preventive measure among individuals considered to be at risk for stroke or heart attack.

The two main types of blood thinners are antiplatelets and anticoagulants.

What Are Antiplatelet Medications?

Antiplatelet medications stop red blood cells (platelets) from sticking together and clotting. If you sustain an injury, platelets in your blood release thromboxane to the affected area. Thromboxane essentially signals other platelets to ‘help out’ by sticking together and form a blood clot.

Antiplatelets are effective in arterial circulation, where anticoagulants do not have much effect. These medications work by inhibiting the production of thromboxane, which is necessary for some people when platelets bunch together inside an injured or inflamed blood vessel, potentially causing a life-threatening blood clot. The formation of blood clots around heart stents or artificial heart valves, for example, are not uncommon. This is why patients are usually given an antiplatelet drug after an angioplasty or a stent procedure, or if they have a history of coronary heart disease, heart attack, angina, stroke or peripheral vascular disease.

Most Common Antiplatelets

  • Aspirin
  • Aggrenox (aspirin/extended-release dipyridamole)
  • Plavix (clopidogrel)
  • Persantine (dipyridamole)
  • Effient (prasugrel)
  • Ticlid (ticlopidine)

What Are Anticoagulant Medications?

When people talk about blood thinners, they are most often talking about anticoagulants. While antiplatelets combat blood clots by inhibiting thromboxane production, anticoagulants like warfarin actually target clotting factors.

Clotting factors are proteins created in the liver with the help of Vitamin K, which is found in cauliflower, cabbage and leafy green vegetables. Anticoagulants like warfarin work to slow blood clot production by competing with Vitamin K, thus inhibiting clotting factors from circulating. Anticoagulants can both prevent blood clots from forming and prevent existing blood clots from getting any larger.

Anticoagulants are considered to be a more aggressive form of treatment than antiplatelets. They are the recommended treatment for individuals who:

  • Have atrial fibrillation
  • Are at high risk for stroke
  • Have undergone replacement or mechanical heart valve surgery
  • Suffer from other cardiovascular issues

If you are prescribed a blood thinner such as warfarin, your doctor will have you regularly test your blood to ensure that you are receiving the correct dosage. A dosage that is too weak can increase a patient’s risk of stroke, hematoma death or subdural hematoma. A dosage that is too strong can put a patient at risk for bleeding events.

Most Common Anticoagulants

  • Coumadin (warfarin)
  • Jantoven (warfarin sodium tablets)
  • Lovenox (enoxaparin)
  • Pradaxa (dabigatran)
  • Warfilone (warfarin)
  • Xarelto (rivaroxaban)

Coumadin (warfarin)

Coumadin (warfarin) is an anticoagulant that is used to treat and/or prevent blood clots in veins or arteries, thus reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, subdural hematoma or other serious conditions.

Warfarin was initially approved in 1948 as a pesticide against rats and mice, a purpose for which the drug is still used. In the early 1950s warfarin was found to be relatively safe and effective in preventing thrombosis, thromboembolism and a host of other disorders.

Patients who use Coumadin must take the prescribed dosage at the same time each day, with or without food. Like other blood thinner medications, patients taking Coumadin need frequent Prothrombin Time (PT) / International Normalized Ratio (INR) tests (measurement of how much time it takes the blood to clot) to ensure that they are receiving the correct drug dosage.

Coumadin Side Effects

Blood thinner medications like Coumadin may cause patients to bleed more easily, which, in certain circumstances, can become life-threatening. Patients who experience unusual bleeding events or bleeding that won’t stop should seek emergency medical attention. It is also possible to have internal bleeding, such as in a person’s intestines or stomach. If you cough up blood or find blood in your urine or stool, contact your physician immediately.

Jantoven (warfarin)

Like Coumadin, Jantoven (warfarin) is another brand name associated with warfarin. The drugs essentially work the same way, however, there may be small changes in the drugs’ formulations that may cause a patient’s body to react differently. Coumadin and Jantoven also share the same side effects.

Warfilone (warfarin)

Warfilone (warfarin) is another brand name for warfarin. The blood thinner medication shares the same side effects as Coumadin and Jantoven.

Lovenox (enoxaparin)

Lovenox was initially approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1993. It is a blood thinner medication that is used to treat or prevent a specific blood clot called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which can lead to pulmonary embolism (blood clots in lungs). DVT can happen after a number of different surgeries, or among patients who are bed ridden due to severe illness or injury.

Lovenox (enoxaparin) is also used as a preventative measure against blood vessel complications among patients who have certain types of angina or have suffered a heart attack.

Those who have active or uncontrolled bleeding, or have a low level of platelets after being tested for a certain antibody while using Lovenox, should not use the drug.

Lovenox Side Effects

The use of Lovenox can result in a very serious blood clot around the spinal cord if a patient were to undergo a spinal tap or receive an epidural. Patients who develop symptoms of a spinal cord blood clot should seek immediate medical attention. These symptoms include muscle weakness or numbness in lower body, back pain, or the loss of bladder or bowel control.

Like other blood thinner medications, Lovenox may cause patients to bleed more easily if they have a bleeding disorder, hemorrhagic stroke, stomach or intestinal bleeding, ulcer, infection to the lining of the heart, or recently underwent brain, eye or spine surgery.

Pradaxa (dabigatran)

Pradaxa (dabigatran) works by inhibiting the action of thrombin, an enzyme in the blood that causes clotting by converting fibrinogen to fibrin. It was approved by the FDA in 2010 as a major challenger to warfarin, a much older drug. Like warfarin, Pradaxa is used to treat patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation who don’t have heart disease and are at risk for blood clots.

Unlike warfarin, which thins the blood by competing with Vitamin K (essential to the chemical reaction that forms blood clots), Pradaxa is a thrombin (clotting protein) inhibitor. Pradaxa is also said to be easier to manage and administer, as it doesn’t require the same constant blood testing that goes with taking warfarin. The drug is very costly, however. Whereas an annual supply of warfarin costs an average of $200, an annual supply of Pradaxa costs around $3,000, on average.

Pradaxa Side Effects

Some of the most serious Pradaxa side effects are no different than other blood thinner medications. The more serious Pradaxa side effects include uncontrolled bleeding events, heart attack, stroke, subdural hematoma, and even hematoma death.

Immediate medical attention should be sought in the event that patients experience any of the following Pradaxa side effects:

  • Uncontrolled Bleeding Events
  • Coughing or Vomiting Blood
  • Blood in Urine or Stool

Xarelto (rivaroxaban)

Xarelto (rivaroxaban) is one of the newest blood thinner medications on the market. The drug was permitted to participate in the FDA’s expedited approval program, ultimately receiving approval for the treatment and prevention of DVT and pulmonary embolism (PE).

The drug belongs to the same class as Pradaxa (dabigatran). The difference between the two blood thinner medications has to do with how both address thrombin; Pradaxa works by inhibiting thrombin whilst Xarelto actually prevents thrombin from forming.

Like Pradaxa, Xarelto is prescribed to patients with atrial fibrillation in order to reduce their risk of stroke caused by a blood clot. Patients who have an artificial heart valve or have been diagnosed with active or uncontrolled bleeding should not take Xarelto.

Xarelto Side Effects

One of the most severe Xarelto side effects is uncontrolled bleeding events. When a bleeding event occurs near a major organ, blood flow to that organ is interrupted, which can cause it to lose some or all of its functionality. When blood pools internally, it can cause severe health risks, including brain bleeds and parenchymal or intraparenchymal hemorrhages, which are all deadly.

Xarelto can also cause a serious blood clot around a patient’s spinal cord if they undergo a spinal tap or receive spinal anesthesia (epidural). This blood clot is particularly dangerous, as it could cause paralysis.