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Discharge Instructions: Taking Anticoagulants

An anticoagulant prevents the formation of blood clots. It also helps keep existing blood clots from growing larger. Note: This medication can make it difficult for the blood to clot if you are injured. Talk to your healthcare provider about the bleeding risk associated with your medication.

The name of your anticoagulant is


Guidelines for Use

  • Follow the fact sheet that came with your medication. It tells you when and how to take your medication. Ask for a sheet if you didn’t get one.

  • Tell your doctor about all medications you take, including over-the-counter medications, supplements, or herbal remedies.

  • Don’t take any other medications without checking with your doctor first.

  • Protect yourself from injury. This medication makes bleeding harder to stop.

  • Take your anticoagulant at the same time every day.

  • If you miss a dose of this medication, take it as soon as you remember—unless it’s almost time for your next dose. In that case, just wait and take your next dose at the normal time. Don’t take a double dose.

  • Have blood tests as often as directed.

  • Tell any healthcare provider you see for care (such as doctors, dentists, chiropractors, home health nurses) that you take an anticoagulant.

  • Carry a medical ID card or wear a medical-alert bracelet that says you take an anticoagulant.

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Use an electric razor to shave.

  • Don’t go barefoot. Don’t trim corns or calluses yourself.

Watch What You Eat

Many foods contain a lot of vitamin K, which helps your blood clot. Eating more or less of these foods can affect the way your anticoagulant works. Here are some specific tips:

  • Try to keep your diet about the same each day.

  • Be consistent in the amount of foods you eat that are high in vitamin K. These include asparagus, avocado, broccoli, and cabbage.

  • Limit fats to 2-4 tablespoons a day.

  • Discuss alcohol intake with your doctor.

  • Avoid teas that contain sweet clover, sweet woodruff, or tonka beans. These can affect how your medication works.

Possible Side Effects

Tell your doctor if you have any side effects. But, even if you have side effects, don’t stop taking the medication unless your doctor tells you to. Side effects may include:

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhea

  • Poor or no appetite

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Bleeding that doesn’t stop in 10 minutes

  • A heavier-than-normal menstrual period or bleeding between periods

  • Coughing or throwing up blood

  • Diarrhea or bleeding hemorrhoids 

  • Dark-colored urine or black stools

  • Red or black-and-blue marks on the skin that get larger

  • Dizziness or fatigue

  • Chest pain or trouble breathing


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