What These New Blood Thinners Mean for Heart Health

When it comes to preventing life-threatening clots, there used to be only one blood thinner that doctors routinely turned to — warfarin (usually marketed under the name Coumadin). But this medication wasn’t without problems, which prompted medical manufacturers to come up with alternatives. 

Recently, these new blood thinners have made their way to market, and they’re changing the way people approach their heart health.

At Heart Rhythm Associates, Dr. Van H. De Bruyn and our team specialize in heart health, and we pride ourselves on offering our patients in central Arkansas the latest, most effective treatments available. When these new blood thinners became available, we did our research and found that these non-vitamin K oral anticoagulants (NOACs) may provide a better solution for many of our patients.

Here’s a look at what these new blood thinners mean for your heart health.

Why blood thinners?

The reason we recommend blood thinners is quite simple — to prevent clots from forming, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. What isn’t so simple are the many reasons why you may be at risk for clot formation, which include:

Indeed, most any cardiovascular issue puts you at risk for developing dangerous clots, which is what prompts us to place you on blood thinners to prevent this from occurring.

Blood-thinning medications generally work in one of two ways. They: 

Aspirin is the best example of an antiplatelet medication, while warfarin used to be the primary anticoagulant.

Solving a blood-thinning problem

The problem with anticoagulants like Coumadin is the risk of bleeding, as well as the constant oversight to adjust your medication to keep your blood at the right level of coagulation. And this can sometimes be a daily effort if you change your eating or drinking habits often.

This is because warfarin works by inhibiting vitamin K, which is the vitamin your body needs to synthesize important clotting agents. This indirect approach is what forces many people to have to constantly manage their medications, making necessary adjustments according to eating habits (if you add foods rich in vitamin K to your diet, for example)

To address these issues and improve upon how we thin your blood, four new blood-thinning medications have been introduced:

These blood thinners work by directly inhibiting very specific clotting factors, providing a more reliable anticoagulant effect. This largely means that you won’t have to adjust your medications in order to receive ongoing protection against clot formations.

And if excessive bleeding concerns you, there are reversal agents for these new blood thinners.

Leading organizations including the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and the Heart Rhythm Society have found that NOACs may work better than warfarin and cause less bleeding, which is why the groups now recommend these new blood thinners for patients with atrial fibrillation.

There are instances in which these new blood thinners are not appropriate — chiefly for those patients who’ve received an artificial valve, who are pregnant, or who have certain kidney issues.

The bottom line is that alternatives for warfarin were long overdue, and Heart Rhythm Associates is pleased to be able to offer our patients a wider choice of options when it comes to blood thinners.

If you’d like to explore whether these new blood thinners are right for you, please don’t hesitate to give our Little Rock office a call or use our convenient online booking tool to request an appointment.

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