Many people are not taking warfarin safely, putting them at risk of blood clots or bleeding
Nearly 12 per cent of the population of Australia is taking warfarin, but many people are not taking it safely, putting them at risk of blood clots or serious bleeding.
Warfarin is a medication used to control blood-clot related conditions. It is used to reduce the risk of developing a blood clot by thinning the blood. From 2000 to 2010 the number of warfarin prescriptions in Australia rose by 70 per cent, and it is the mainstay of anti-clotting therapy.
Warfarin has been used for approximately 60 years to prevent dangerous blood clots. In that time the International Normalised Ratio (INR) has been developed as the test to monitor the blood clotting effects of warfarin to ensure patients stay within the target range. Being outside the target range is dangerous, as at one extreme you can be at risk of dangerous blood clots, and at the other you can be at risk of serious bleeding.
According to clinical advisor Dr Andrew Boyden, “despite regular testing many people spend significant periods of time outside their target range”. So how can you help to ensure you or your loved one is taking warfarin safely?
Make sure you take your warfarin at the same time every day. Don’t change the brand you are taking, and contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice if you miss a dose.
Don’t skip appointments
Have your INR blood tests regularly and frequently, and if you have to skip an appointment (it’s best if you don’t), ensure you reschedule quickly.
Keep your health professional informed
Talk to your health professional before starting any new medication including prescriptions, vitamins, over-the-counter drugs, complementary and ‘natural’ medicines. All of these can affect how your warfarin reacts, so it is important to ensure you aren’t putting yourself at risk.
Let your doctor know about any big changes to your diet or alcohol intake. Inform him or her of any illnesses or travel plans, as all these factors can affect your INR.
Regulate your vitamin K
Eat the same amount of foods which contain high levels of vitamin K each week, such as spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.
You can find out more about living with warfarin by visiting the NPS medicinewise warfarin information page. For more information about what to do if you miss a dose of warfarin visit the NPS website.
Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free
- Receive our daily enewsletter
- Enter competitions
- Comment on articles