Taking Coumadin, a widely prescribed "blood thinner" medication, is as simple as swallowing a tablet. But taking it safely requires the full-spectrum of patient education and follow-up care.
Coumadin is used to prevent the formation of blood clots that can cause stroke, heart attack or blood vessel blockages in other parts of the body, such as the legs and arms. It works by interfering with the body’s ability to use vitamin K, which plays a key role in the biochemistry of blood clots. It can be a life-saving medicine if it is taken in the correct dosage and if patients are carefully monitored with periodic blood tests.
Our program is designed to help patients reap the maximum benefits of the drug with a minimum risk of serious side effects. The dosage must be tailored to each patient. Too high a dose may cause bleeding, while too low a dose may not be enough to stop abnormal blood clots from lodging in the heart, brain, or virtually anywhere in the circulatory system.
Many patients are referred to our program because they have conditions that increase their risk of blood clot-related complications, such as heart valve disease, atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
First, we make them our "partners" in their care by empowering them with information. We teach patients how to recognize the signs and symptoms of dosage problems. We counsel them about possible interactions between Coumadin and other prescription drugs, over-the-counter herbal and vitamin supplements, and non-prescription medicines. And we help them select physical activities with a low probability of injury that also match their interests.
Then we track the drug’s effect with periodic blood tests that measure blood-clotting time to determine if the dosage should be adjusted.
Most important, we make establishing patients’ trust in us a priority. We answer their phone calls promptly, and field their questions with accurate answers—and heart-felt concern.