What are anticoagulants?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Many people with heart failure are at risk for blood clots in the heart or blood vessels. A blood clot can cause a stroke or other organ damage. Anticoagulant medications affect proteins in the blood and reduce the possibility of blood clots. Anticoagulant drugs include warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven), apixaban (Eliquis), dabigatran (Pradaxa), and rivaroxaban (Xarelto).

Anticoagulant medication is recommended for people with heart failure who have atrial fibrillation or a history of a stroke or blood clot. It is also recommended for people with heart failure who have had a heart attack recently. 

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Anticoagulants, known by brand names including Coumadin, Jantoven and a new drug called Pradaxa, protect against stroke due to atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm) by reducing the risk of blood clots. They are also used for some people with other types of heart disease or stroke.

Blood-thinning medications, or anticoagulants, inhibit blood from clotting. Examples include aspirin, Coumadin, and heparin.

Anticoagulants are medications that prevent blood from clotting, thereby reducing the chance of a heart attack or stroke. Anticoagulants are prescribed for patients who have had a heart attack or stroke, deep vein thrombosis, or who have had a stent placement.

Examples of Anticoagulants:

  • warfarin (Coumadin)
  • heparin
  • lovenox


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