The Patient’s Guide to Using Coumadin

Coumadin–or warfarin, which is the generic name–is a medication used by cardiologists to treat and prevent blood clots. Because Coumadin has several side effects, it is important for patients taking it to follow all of their doctors’ recommendations and to have regular check-ups. If your heart doctor has recently prescribed Coumadin for you, here is what you need to know.

What is Coumadin?

Coumadin is an anticoagulant. It helps to keep blood flowing and cuts the risk of blood clots by reducing the amount of proteins that encourage clotting in your blood. Your heart doctor may prescribe Coumadin if you have atrial fibrillation or another type of heart arrhythmia, have recently had a heart attack, or if you have had a heart valve replacement surgery.

What are the Side Effects?

Coumadin can cause bloating, gas, altered taste, and gastrointestinal problems in some patients. The most significant risk of taking Coumadin is uncontrolled bleeding, which could be fatal. This risk is highest when beginning taking Coumadin and for patients who take high doses of the medicine. Your heart doctor will discuss your health history with you, including your history of bleeding disorders, to determine if Coumadin is the right medicine for you.

How is It Managed?

When you take Coumadin, you will need regular blood tests to determine how the medicine is working. The effect of Coumadin can vary dramatically from week to week, so your dose may need to be adjusted regularly. Your heart doctor may also recommend that you eat a special diet when you are on Coumadin. In particular, it is important to control your intake of foods that contain vitamin K, such as spinach and kale, as they can affect the way Coumadin works.

At Cardiac Solutions, we offer a Coumadin clinic to help patients taking this medication reduce their side effects and manage it effectively. For more information about our cardiologists or treatments for high cholesterol and heart conditions in Phoenix , call our clinic now at (623) 876-8816.

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