Health Capsule
Blood Thinners

Despite their name, blood thinners don't actually "thin" your blood. They keep harmful clots from forming in your veins and stop them from getting bigger.

Coumadin (warfarin), one of the most common blood thinners, works by blocking the activity of vitamin K in your body. Vitamin K plays a role in the process of blood clotting.

Newer blood thinners block various points along the "clotting cascade" -- the series of events that happen to form a clot.


Spinach, like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and other green leafy vegetables, has a lot of vitamin K, which can affect how Coumadin works.


If you take that drug, it's OK to eat those vegetables, but try to eat the same amount every day. A sudden increase in vitamin K can make Coumadin less effective.

If you're taking any of the newer blood thinners -- Eliquis (apixaban), Pradaxa (dabigatran), or Xarelto (rivaroxaban) -- you can eat as many green leafy vegetables as you'd like. Your diet won't affect those drugs.

 Call your doctor if you have any signs of serious bleeding. That includes a cut that does not stop, red or brown urine, or bowel movements that are red or look like tar. Also call your doctor if you have bruises without having an injury that you're aware of.


Go to the hospital or call your doctor if you have a bad fall or a hard bump, even if you don't see any blood.

You need a prescription for blood thinners. But if you have or are at risk for heart problems, a common over-the-counter drug could save your life.


Aspirin helps keep blood from clotting and lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke. But check with your doctor before using aspirin, and then follow his or her advice on how much to take.

Some blood thinners need to be taken around the same time every day. If you forget to take your blood thinner, take it when you remember. Don't skip it or take a double dose. Your next day's dose can be taken on your regular schedule.

Call your doctor if you miss a day.

A pill box with a slot for each day can help you keep track of your doses.

If you're taking a blood thinner, you don't want to do anything that could make you bleed. Be careful if you use sharp objects such as knives, scissors, and razors.


To keep your gums from bleeding, try a soft toothbrush and waxed dental floss. Don't use toothpicks.


Always wear shoes outdoors. Wear gloves while gardening and using tools.

You're more likely to get a nosebleed if you're on blood thinners, and you might have trouble making it stop.

Squeeze your nose closed for 10 to 15 minutes and apply a cold compress to the bridge of your nose.


Get emergency treatment if the bleeding lasts for 30 minutes. Talk to your doctor if you get a lot of nosebleeds.

It's best to avoid sports that could cause bruises or bleeding. Swimming and walking are generally safe.

If you want to do something more vigorous, check with your doctor. Also talk to your doctor about whether you should wear a medical alert bracelet that lists the drugs you take.

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