Medical short shorts: blood thinners



Paul Goldfinger, MD, FACC


Someone told me recently that if a person moves to Florida, they eventually become accustomed to the heat because their blood gets thinner down here.  That, of course, is nonsense.

Some people take blood “thinners”  (anticoagulants)  for a variety of medical conditions in which there is a risk of blood clotting.   One is when there is clotting of the leg veins (venous thrombosis of the legs—-ie thrombophlebitis.)  If that happens there is a risk of a leg clot breaking off and going to the lungs ( ie pulmonary embolism . ) That could be fatal.

Or they may take such anticoagulants for atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder.where blood clots can form in the heart and then break off and get carried to the brain, causing a stroke.

These drugs such as Coumadin or Xarelto do not make the blood “thin”  They act by blocking the body’s coagulation  (clotting) system. to prevent clots from forming.

Remember to take precautions to prevent falling, because head trauma is especially dangerous.  And report any spontaneous bleeding, for example in your urine or bowels.

If you take one of these drugs, try not to miss a dose.

And if you go to a lab for blood tests, be sure to tell the phlebotomist that you are taking an anticoagulant.  Then she should keep pressure on the place where the stick was done and she should dress the wound with a pressure dressing.   Then you should keep pressure on for a few minutes after she says goodbye.