Existing patients who have been prescribed anticoagulants
may have their labs drawn and medications adjusted on a walk-in basis during clinic hours. Pharmacists who are certified in anticoagulation provide this service. Results are communicated to patients' managing cardiologists and primary care physicians. The clinic manager also provides one-on-one education and counseling regarding medication management.
Normal & Abnormal Blood Clotting
When an injury occurs that causes bleeding, a blood clot will form to stop the bleeding and protect against infection. When the injured blood vessel has healed itself, the clot is no longer needed and is gradually reabsorbed by the body. Substances in the blood, called clotting factors, work to ensure that the blood flows smoothly and that it does not coagulate too quickly or too slowly (become too thick or thin). Under certain circumstances, the body becomes more prone to developing blood clots abnormally, especially with certain rhythms of the heart. This can lead to blood clots in areas that can cause harm, such as in the heart, lungs, brain or extremities. If a clot forms in such an area, it might cause a blockage in the circulation and hinder blood flow. More seriously, a piece of the clot might break off and travel through the circulation system and lodge in the heart, lungs or brain.
Coagulation is a term that refers to the formation of blood clots. Anticoagulants are medications that work against the formation of blood clots that can be harmful, decreasing the production of natural clotting factors and reducing the chance of forming a blood clot.
Reasons for Taking an Anticoagulant
Your doctor might prescribe an anticoagulant for any of the following conditions:
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): This term refers to a blood clot that forms in one of the large veins in the leg or arm. These clots cause damage by blocking blood flow, which leads to swelling and discomfort in the extremity.
- Pulmonary Embolus (PE): This term refers to a blood clot that travels to the lung. These clots are dangerous because they result in lack of oxygen. Symptoms may be shortness of breath and chest pain. The severity of the problem depends on how big the clot is and where it is lodged.
- Atrial Fibrillation (AF): The main cause of stroke, this is a condition that causes an abnormal, irregular rhythm and rate of the heart beat. As a result, blood can not be pumped out of the heart as efficiently as it should be. This can cause the remaining blood in the heart to become sluggish and more prone to clots.
- Artificial Heart Valves: The body does not recognize artificial valve substance and attempts to protect itself against it. Clots may form as a result.
- Hereditary Disorders: Inherited deficiency that causes blood to clot more readily.
- Myocardial Infarction (MI): Heart attacks reduce blood flow through one of the coronary arteries.
- Cardiomyopathies (TIA/CVA): Strokes are a sudden impairment of cerebral circulation in one or more of the blood vessels supplying the brain.