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10 Blood Thinners and How They Work

Blood Thinners
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Blood Thinner Medications

Blood thinners aim at reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack by working to decrease the formation of blood clots in arteries and veins of the body.

Blood thinner meds may also be taken in cases of abnormal heart rhythms as seen in atrial fibrillation, heart valve surgery and congenital heart defects.

Blood Thinner Names

Blood thinners can be classified into two main categories: anticoagulants and antiplatelet.

Anticoagulants include heparin (warfarin) which help reduce blood clots by working on chemical reactions in the body, increasing the time taken for a blood clot to form.

Antiplatelet drugs on the other hand include aspirin, which work by preventing platelets from clumping together (commonly used in cases of thrombocytosis) that could cause the formation of clots in blood vessels.

Thrombocytosis is described as the existence of too much platelet in the blood system. The condition is commonly grouped into two categories which, Secondary and Primary/ essential thrombocytosis.

*Primary or essential thrombocytosis results from abnormal cell production in the bone marrow, causing an increase in the number of platelets due to a reason that is purely unknown.

*Secondary thrombocytosis leads to increased platelet production in the bone marrow caused by a known ongoing medical condition, infection or disease such as inflammation, anaemia or cancer.

Thrombocytosis symptoms include spontaneous clotting of blood in the arms and legs, which could lead to heart attack as well as stroke if untreated. 

In severe cases, the patient might have to undergo platelet pheresis, a procedure meant to lower platelet count by blood removal and blood component separation process.

Platelet pheresis is performed with the objective to separate platelets out of the blood, followed by the return of the remaining blood components and cells back into the body of the patient.

The use of blood thinning medications is simply another option in the treatment of patients with thrombocytosis. The following items below are some common specific names of blood thinners and their functions.

List of Blood Thinners & How They Work

1. Coumadin

This blood thinner is also known as warfarin. Coumadin is the oldest and one of the most common blood thinners.

Its ability to prevent blood clots and clumping has shown to be evidently effective in the management of many patient’s blood clotting issues.

The blood thinner works by causing a reduction in the levels of vitamin K in the blood system, a vitamin that regulates the process of blood clotting.

However, the drug has side effects such as ecchymosis, discolorations of the skin and over-bleeding.

blood thinners coumadin

2. Pradaxa

Pradaxa was introduced as a better solution meant to distant from the side effects that could arise with the use of Coumadin.

The anti-coagulant works by inhibiting the actions of thrombin and the active form of prothrombin, which is a clotting protein.

The drug is normally administered in 150 mg and 75 mg capsules twice each day. Individuals with kidney issues are advised to take lower doses of the drug.

The discontinuation or stoppage in the intake of the drug may increase the risk of stroke and heart attack on the user. 

The drug has its own set of side effects such as bruising and excessive bleeding from minor injury of blood vessels. Stomach pains, nausea and heartburns are some of the other side effects that may arise with the use of pradaxa.

blood thinners pradaxa

3. Eliquis

Among our blood thinner medication list is Eliquis which is also known as apixaban. The anti-coagulant is a direct factor Xa inhibitor, which serves as a treatment means for venous thromboembolic activities.

Xa as a factor has the role of catalysing the conversion of the inactive prothrombin to the active form of thrombin enzyme. The enzyme results to fibrin formation.

Eliquis has no direct effect on platelet aggregation but by inhibiting factor Xa, it ensures a reduced formation of platelets.

Discontinuation in the use of Eliquis may also increase the risk of heart attack as well as stroke in patients.

Over-bleeding and spinal puncture may come about as a side effect in the use of Eliquis.

blood thinners eliquis

4. Heparin

Heparin works by binding itself to the enzyme inhibitor antithrombin III, resulting in a change that later leads to its activation having an increase in the flexibility and accessibility of its reactive loop.

The activated antithrombin III inactivates thrombin as well as the other proteases that take part in blood clotting; importantly, factor Xa. The activity leads to a lesser clotting of the blood.

blood thinners heparin

5. Rivaroxaban

The drug is another name for Xarelto. It works by inhibiting the free factor Xa as well as factor Xa which are normally bound in thrombinase complex.

This inhibition interrupts the pathway of the blood coagulation cascade thus, controlling the process of thrombin formation and thrombi.

The most serious side effect that may be exhibited by patients under the drug is excessive internal bleeding.

6. Aspirin

Aspirin is a common antiplatelet drug. Aspirin as an antiplatelet, works by inhibiting the production of thromboxane in the blood. 

Thromboxane has the role of binding active platelet molecules together to create a patch on injured blood vessel walls.

Aspirin works at low doses in preventing heart attacks and strokes that could develop as a result of blood clot formation.

blood thinners aspirin

7. Beraprost

Beraprost is an anti-platelet drug; synthetic analogue of prostacyclin that affects vasodilation.

The resulting vasodilation consequently lowers the blood pressure of the patient, leading to reduced availability and accessibility of the platelets to the location where blood clotting would take place.

Beraprost is also known to inhibit platelet aggregation.

blood thinners beraprost

8. Tirofiban

Tirofiban with a trade name of Aggrastat, is an antiplatelet drug that belongs to the class of antiplatelet glycoprotein IIIa inhibitors. The origin of the drug can be traced to a pharmacophore

Tirofiban as an antiplatelet is known to reduce the rate of thrombotic cardiovascular activities in patients suffering from non-ST elevation of acute coronary syndrome.

It thus, reduces the chances of blood clotting that could otherwise lead to serious heart attacks.

blood thinners tirofiban

9. Clopidogrel

Clopidogrel is an active ADP receptor antagonist which works by competitively inhibiting ADP from its role of binding to platelet receptors.

This activity prevents the ADP-mediated up-regulation of the glycoprotein IIb/IIIa receptors, leading to a blocked amplification in the process of platelet aggregation.

If the process becomes successfully completed instead, it could lead to clumping and clotting of blood within the blood vessels.

blood thinners clopidogrel

10. Dipyridamole

This is an anti-platelet drug whose mechanism of activity is not fully understood.

It is however, thought to work by functioning against adenosine absorption with platelets and thus, reducing ADP-induced aggregation of platelets.  

Dipyridamole has vasodilation properties that make it unsuitable in patients with coronary artery disease, recent myocardial infarction and obstruction of left ventricular outflow.

The Use Of Blood Thinner Medication

Now that we’ve had a good background with the blood thinners list above, it’s important to keep in mind that the use of anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs requires strict prescription and supervision of qualified medical doctors.

There can be extreme blood thinner side effects which when poorly managed might lead to serious health problems and even death of the patient.

All anti-platelet drugs can result in bleeding, active peptic ulcer diseases and even uncontrolled hypertension.

Hypersensitivity and allergic reactions may also take place.




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