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Mechanical heart valves require that you take an anticoagulant medication (sometimes referred to as a “blood thinner”) for the rest of your life. Warfarin (Coumadin) doesn’t actually thin your blood but rather prevents clots from forming on the artificial surface of the valve. Blood clots on the valve can lead to valve malfunction. They can also break free of the valve and cause other medical problems such as a stroke. Proper monitoring of this medication is important to ensure you remain at a safe level. This requires periodic blood tests.