Blood thinners play a very important role in treating conditions in which blood clots cause strokes, heart attacks and breathing problems. They work in different ways. Some will prevent the body from making blood clots. Others will help break the clots down when they are formed. Still others will prevent platelets from sticking together and helping form clots. Newer versions are more expensive but easier to dose.
Whatever the mechanism, these medications are powerful and effective if used for the proper indications. Yet, like everything else in the universe, there is no free lunch.
Thinning of the blood means that when you really need the clots to form, they won’t form as well. So if you fall and hit your head, instead of small bump on your scalp, you will have a much larger bruise. Even worse, if the force of the fall is enough to affect the brain, severe bleeding might result.
In fact, you can bleed from almost anywhere in your body including your gut, liver, spleen, kidneys, gums and the list goes on. And you can bleed spontaneously without any injury. Sometimes these bleeds left untreated can be fatal.
There are some treatments available which can partially or completely reverse the blood thinning. However, not all work well and some take several hours to take effect, which in a true emergency is not a good thing.
To make matters even more complicated, the level of blood thinning will vary from person to person, with diet and other medications taken. In other words your dose of blood thinner might need to be changed frequently.
Does this mean that you should never take these drugs, because the side effects can be serious even fatal? No, you should just understand the risks of these drugs. Talk with your doctor and ask if the benefits are worth the risks. Know the side effects and when to go the emergency room right away.