Can hypercoagulation be treated?
Yes. Several medicines can thin your blood and make it less likely to clot. Some people with hypercoagulation only need to take blood thinners when they're in a situation that makes them more likely to form clots (such as when they are in the hospital recovering from surgery, when they are in a car or airplane for a long time or when they are pregnant). Other people need to take medicine on an ongoing basis for the rest of their lives. Your doctor will decide what treatment is right for you.
What medicines are used to treat hypercoagulation?
The two most common blood thinners are called heparin and warfarin. Your doctor will probably give you heparin first, because heparin works right away. Heparin must be injected with a small needle under the skin. Once the heparin begins to work, your doctor will probably have you start taking oral warfarin. Warfarin takes longer to begin working.
What are the side effects of these medicines?
Both medicines can cause you to bleed more easily. If you cut yourself, you might notice that the blood takes longer to clot than usual. You might also bruise more easily. Call your doctor if you have any unusual or heavy bleeding.
Warfarin has a stronger effect on some people than on others. If you take warfarin, your doctor will want to check you often with a blood test that shows how well the warfarin is working. Some other medicines can increase or decrease the strength of warfarin. Ask your doctor before you take a new medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements. Also, talk to your doctor about foods you should avoid while taking warfarin.
If you're pregnant, you should not take warfarin. Warfarin can cause birth defects. Instead, you must use heparin until you deliver your baby. If you want to get pregnant and you're already taking warfarin, talk with your doctor about changing to heparin. Sexually active women who take warfarin should use birth control.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff