Anticoagulant Medications for Blood Clot Treatment

Blood Clot Treatment Orange, CA

Blood clots, or thrombosis, can be a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. They occur when blood cells clump together, forming a semi-solid mass within the blood vessels. A common blood clot treatment is anticoagulant medication. Vascular surgeons and doctors can prescribe these medications to prevent life-threatening complications that blood clots can cause.

Understanding anticoagulant medications

Anticoagulant medications, commonly known as blood thinners, are a class of prescription medications used for blood clot treatment. They work by helping to prevent the formation of blood clots. They do not dissolve existing clots. However, they are a preventative tool to prevent new clots from developing and existing ones from growing larger.

How anticoagulants work

Anticoagulants interfere with the body's natural blood clotting process. They target specific clotting factors in the blood to either slow down or inhibit the formation of clots. This is important for preventing blood clots from forming in narrowed or damaged blood vessels. The process depends on the type of anticoagulants.

Types of anticoagulants

There are two main categories of anticoagulants:

  1. Heparins: This type of anticoagulant includes unfractionated heparin and low molecular weight heparin (LMWH). Heparins work by enhancing the activity of antithrombin, which is a natural clot inhibitor. Vascular doctors often use heparins in hospital settings for acute cases of blood clots as an intravenous injection.
  2. Oral anticoagulants: These anticoagulants are taken orally in pill form. These include warfarin (Coumadin®) and direct-acting oral anticoagulants (DOACs) such as dabigatran (Pradaxa®), rivaroxaban (Xarelto®), apixaban (Eliquis®), edoxaban (Savaysa®), and betrixaban (Bevyxxa®). Doctors prescribe these to patients as a long-term anticoagulation therapy.

The benefits of anticoagulants

Anticoagulants are an effective tool in preventing life-threatening conditions like stroke, pulmonary embolism, and heart attack. There are also several ways that people can take these medications. This means that those who cannot take a specific medication may be able to take a similar one.

Side effects and complications of anticoagulants

While anticoagulants are highly effective in preventing blood clots, they have some risks. The most significant concern is bleeding. Patients taking oral anticoagulants need to be aware of signs of excessive bleeding, such as easy bruising, prolonged bleeding from cuts, or blood in urine or stool. In case of any unusual bleeding, they should seek immediate medical attention.


Warfarin has a higher risk of causing bleeding because the doctor needs to find a precise dosage. Other risks and side effects of warfarin include:

  • Skin necrosis
  • Blue or purple toes and feet
  • Congenital disabilities or miscarriages
  • Complications in patients with lupus


Heparin can affect other components of one's blood and bones. Its risks and side effects can range from mild to severe. One of these side effects includes heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), of which there are two types. The more common Type I HIT causes a slight decrease in platelets; it is not dangerous and typically goes away shortly after the patient no longer receives heparin.

In contrast, Type II HIT triggers a response in the immune system that causes platelets to activate. This triggers a chain reaction of rapid clotting throughout the body, which is extremely dangerous. Fortunately, this condition is rare and only occurs in 1% of patients who receive heparin.

HIT can cause severe or permanent complications, so it is important for patients receiving heparin to undergo platelet-level monitoring. If a vascular doctor notices signs of an individual developing HIT, they will stop administering this medication and switch the patient to another medication.

Interactions with other medications and foods

Patients on anticoagulant therapy need to be cautious about potential interactions with other medications and certain foods. For example, some antibiotics, herbal supplements, and foods rich in vitamin K can impact the effectiveness of anticoagulants. Patients must inform their healthcare provider about all medications, supplements, and dietary habits.

Do you have questions?

Anticoagulant medications are an essential part of preventing the formation of life-threatening blood clots. With the proper guidance and adherence to your prescribed treatment plan, these medications can significantly improve your quality of life. Call our office today to learn more about blood clot treatment or schedule a consultation.

Request an appointment here: or call Vascular & Interventional Specialists of Orange County at (714) 598-1194 for an appointment in our Orange office

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