*I’ve got another article and video that covers blood clot prevention. If interested, click on the link below:
Blood Clot – You Have One… Now What? What You Need to Know
When I discovered I had a blood clot (I was given an ultrasound and they discovered the clot) I was immediately ordered to go to an emergency room. Once admitted into the hospital I was given Heparin (a blood thinner administered through an IV).
The next day I was given Lovenox—a separate blood thinner that’s given as a shot in the lower-belly area. I was given Lovenox shots even after being discharged from the hospital (for roughly two weeks after) though one can administer the shot by him or herself or can have a loved one give the shot to them.
Finally, I was given Coumadin (also known as Warfarin): it’s a blood thinner that’s taken orally; I’m still taking it and was told I will be evaluated next month to discover the state of my blood clot—most people take Warfarin or another oral blood thinner for three to four months after a blood clot is discovered and an ultrasound is ordered to see if the clot is gone.
There are numerous oral blood thinners out there and an individual should certainly do research as to the safety of each. My hematologist urged me to take one of the newer blood thinners; however, my oldest brother (a recognized microsurgeon) told me to take Coumadin because it’s been around for decades and has been studied thoroughly for interactions and side-effects; some of these new blood-thinning drugs have been recalled due to safety concerns and so going with tried-and-true Coumadin is a safer choice (the exception are pregnant women—they’re typically prescribed Lovenox because Coumadin is not safe for pregnant women to take).
I take my Coumadin at the same time each and every day (this is important); to remind myself to take my medicine I have an alarm set on my cell phone so every evening at 7:30 PM my alarm chimes to remind me to knock back my blood thinners.
It takes roughly a week for Coumadin to build up in the blood stream and so Heparin and/or Lovenox must be given to ‘bridge the gap’ until the Coumadin has become effective.
Also, make certain you’re mindful of where you store your prescription drugs; many prescriptions come with an information page/guide stating a drug shouldn’t be placed in direct sunlight or in a humid or hot place. Make certain you read the instructions as having your prescription drugs in the wrong place can decrease the effectiveness of your medication.
If you do take Coumadin for a blood clot you’ll be required to get your blood drawn (typically once a week to start and then once every two weeks) to check your PT and INR levels (short for prothrombin time and international normalized ratio).
In simple terms, these tests check to see how long it takes for one’s blood to clot in a blood sample. This is done to make certain one’s blood is neither too thick nor too thin. If the blood is in fact too thick or thin you will be given a different dosage of Coumadin to alter your blood’s thickness to a safe level.
Also, one must be careful as to how much vitamin K is consumed. Vitamin K plays a key role in helping the blood clot so taking it while taking a blood thinner will minimize the blood thinners effectiveness.
Foods high in vitamin K include (but aren’t limited to): kale, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beef liver, green tea, collards and lettuce.
You should also stay away from ginseng, vitamin E and ginkgo biloba. If you want to take any of these speak with your doctor first.
If on a blood thinner, you’re going to want to eat a consistent amount of vitamin K each and every day because eating different amounts each day will cause fluctuations in Coumadin’s effectiveness and will therefore interfere with your PT and INR test results.
Also, alcohol consumption must be extremely limited while on Coumadin as too much alcohol can cause stomach bleeding.
I spoke with my hematologist on the matter and was told I’m allowed to drink non-alcoholic beer. The non-alcoholic beer I drink contains less than .5% alcohol and it isn’t half bad (Beck’s Non-Alcoholic—it tastes like a less-flavorful version of Stella Artois beer). I also recommend Busch N.A. (non-alcoholic) as it tastes better than most other non-alcoholic beers out there (most are awful and have no flavor).
Also, talk with your doctor if you’re going to go ON or OFF any vitamins or supplements because doing so could affect your blood’s thickness. Chances are the change won’t be an issue but it’s always good to check with your doctor prior to making any changes.
Also, don’t take aspirin unless your doctor tells you to do so as it thins the blood.
If you notice blood in your urine, stool, or vomit, contact your doctor immediately as you could be bleeding internally which can be life-threatening.
Some of the common side-effects of taking a blood thinner is you’ll bruise more easily. So if, for example, you bang your arm on something you will more than likely develop bruising in that area.
Naturally, when you’re using scissors, shaving or even flossing you’re going to want to be careful as to not cut yourself or create a wound as you will of course bleed more while on a blood thinner. If you do in fact cut yourself make certain you apply pressure on the injury so it clots and stops bleeding.
If you’re going to have a medical procedure done (even something as simple as seeing your dentist to have your teeth cleaned) make certain you tell them you’re on blood thinners as they will take precautions to keep you from bleeding and/or to keep any bleeding minimal.
I also urge you get a medical ID bracelet so in the event you’re unable to tell a medical response team you’re on Coumadin they will know you’re on Coumadin when they notice your medical ID bracelet. Of course, this will lead to proper, better medical care.
(click an image below to purchase a Coumadin medical ID bracelet)
I want to tell you about pulmonary embolisms as well. This is when a part of your blood clot breaks free and travels to your heart, lungs or brain. This is life-threatening as it can cause a stroke or heart attack.
If it’s discovered you have an embolism you will most-likely be given ‘clot busters’. Clot busters are a strong, fast-acting medicine that quickly break apart a blood clot to halt the the threat of a heart attack or stroke. They’re only used in dire life-and-limb circumstances as they do increase the risk of internal bleeding.
Related to this, a common misconception is that blood thinner drugs will break apart a blood clot. This is untrue for the most part (the only exception is Heparin—my hematologist told me Heparin does help with breaking apart a blood clot but it’s much slower-acting than a clot buster).
Blood thinners such as Lovenox and Coumadin don’t break apart a blood clot or make it go away—they merely keep new blood clots from forming (and they keep existing blood clots from growing larger).
Aside from clot-busters, your body is the next best alternative when it comes to breaking apart a blood clot but this is not done quickly by any means as it only occurs over time.
As far as products that will make your life both safer and easier, I recommend the following:
I recommend this water bottle (I drink from it when I fly—just fill it up at a water fountain after you pass through TSA security). Being dehydrated increases the chance of a blood clot so keeping hydrated—especially while flying—is essential. I recommend the following water bottle because it holds plenty of water, is sturdy, and unlike the majority of water bottles this one doesn’t contain dangerous chemicals:
It’s also very important to have a pair of compression stockings. I recommend you wear them while flying or driving long distances. They ease moderate conditions related to poor circulation (and bad circulation is what typically causes a blood clot to form). I recommend these super-effective compression stockings:
-Women’s knee-high compression stockings: JOBST Compression Stockings: Black Knee High, Women, 20-30 mmHg
-Women’s thigh-high compression stockings: JOBST Compression Stockings: Black Thigh High, Women, 20-30 mmHg
-Men’s knee-high compression stockings: JOBST Compression Stockings: Black Knee High, Men, 20-30 mmHg
-Men’s thigh-high compression stockings: JOBST Compression Stockings: Black Thigh High, Men, 20-30 mmHg
If you’re not currently on a blood thinner, taking an aspirin before flying or driving a long distance is solid blood clot prevention (81 MG is ideal). I recommend: Kirkland Signature Low Dose Coated Aspirin 81 mg
I hope you found this article and the video that accompanies it to be both helpful and full of content.