Blood thinners are prescribed to prevent blood clots. If you have a blood clot in your leg or lung you will need a blood thinner. If you have a condition which puts you at elevated risk for a blood clot such as atrial fibrillation, then you will also need a blood thinner.
To prevent clots, blood thinners will thin the blood. What this means is that one way or another the process to form clots is inhibited. Yes, this does help prevent clots, which in some cases can be deadly.
At the same time these medications raise the risk of bleeding either spontaneously or from minor injuries. Spontaneous bleeding can occur almost anywhere-including the gut, brain, and joints. Furthermore, minor injuries, especially bumps on the head must be taken seriously.Why?
Because the same force which caused a little bump on your head, might also lead to a bleed within your brain.
Some of these medications can be monitored with blood tests such as PT or PTT which measure the strength of thinning of blood. Others, especially the newer ones cannot be monitored as easily.
There are antidotes available but these don’t always work quickly enough and some are very expensive and hard to find.
Many other medications interact with these drugs. Even some foods can increase or decrease the effectiveness of these drugs.
Be very aware of any easy bruising, headache, weakness, bloody stools, bloody urine if you are taking any blood thinners. Better to go to the ER earlier than later!