Ok, if you’ve read many of my health posts you’re used to the line about how I’m not a physician and I don’t give medical advice. You can double that for this piece. Even if I was a physician, no way I’d be making specific recommendations on the internet to people whose situations are all unique. Getting ‘blood thinning’ right is, I hear, pretty individualistic. Here are some pieces of information you might find useful though.
What are these drugs, and why do people take them in the first place?
First, every human being that uses the term ‘blood thinners’ ought to know this one: Blood thinners do not literally make the blood thinner, in the sense that diluting syrup makes it thinner. “Blood thinners” slow clotting of the blood/make clot formation less likely.
Blood thinners (Coumadin and warfarin common examples) are usually prescribed because the docs are worried about the person forming blood clots inside of the blood vessels. Clots in vessels can do two very bad things: Block up whatever vessel they form in, or break off chunks that are pushed along with the flow of blood until they come to a branch in a vessel too small to let them pass, where they hang up and block that vessel. (This broken-off chunk is called an embolism.) Heart attacks and strokes are other common consequences of clots in vessels.
Common over the counter drugs share the main action of the blood thinners.
Many common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), most all of them except acetaminophen in fact, also have clot inhibiting actions. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are examples. That’s why many people are prescribed a ‘baby aspirin’ or ‘low dose aspirin’ (81 mg is the usual dose) daily; to make them less likely to have a clot inside a blood vessel.
Some medical authorities suggest feeding someone a chewable low-dose aspirin if you suspect the person is suffering from a heart attack…which is caused by a blood clot forming inside an artery that feeds the heart muscle.
Blood pooling in the legs is especially bad if you tend to form blood clots
This is because blood that’s moving sluggishly is generally more likely to form clots. When they do form, if parts break off and are carried in the flow of blood, the next small vessels theyr’e likely to encounter is the lungs. Getting blood clots caught in your lungs (pulmonary embolism) is not a life goal for you, pretty sure.
Not sure what a person might do about that? Why, I’ve an article on that titled My Shoes Shrank! that may help you understand that problem a bit better.
More is not better
When it comes to blood thinning action, more is not better. Sure, not having a stroke or heart attack from a clot inside a vessel is great; but the clot inhibitors don’t just magically inhibit only the clots you don’t want. They inhibit them all. They make traumatic injuries more serious, due to increased bleeding, for example.
When people have too much clot inhibiting action, they tend to bruise very easily. They may also get what looks like a red pinpoint rash that neither hurts nor itches — those are essentially really tiny microbruises from broken capillary beds. When the condition gets more advanced, they develop purplish splotches in random spots that look sort of like bruises (because, well, they’re a lot like bruises).
*By Stephane Vignes, Jerome Bellanger [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
**By Mdscottis (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons