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What are some safety tips when taking anticoagulants?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

If you...

  • Have a prosthetic heart valve - Apixaban and rivaroxaban may not be good options. If you have a mechanical prosthetic heart valve, you should not take dabigatran. If you have a bioprosthetic heart valve, dabigatran may not be a good option for you.
  • Have heart valve disease - Avoid dabigatran
  • Have bacterial endocarditis - You should not take warfarin
  • Have a bleeding disorder (such as hemophilia or von Willebrand disease) - You should not take warfarin
  • Have a cerebral aneurysm - You should not take warfarin
  • Have an aortic dissection - You should not take warfarin
  • Have bleeding in or around the brain - You should not take warfarin
  • Have severe kidney function impairment - You should not take dabigatran and should avoid rivaroxaban. If you have moderate to severe kidney function impairment, warfarin may not be a good option for you.
  • Have moderate to severe liver function impairment - You should avoid rivaroxaban. Warfarin may also not be a good option for you.
  • Are pregnant, may be pregnant, or planning to become pregnant - You should not take warfarin. Apixaban, rivaroxaban, and dabigatran may also not be good options for you. It is not known if they are safe for pregnant women.
  • Are breastfeeding - you should avoid apixaban, rivaroxaban, and dabigatran. Warfarin may also not be a good option for you. (It is not known if anticoagulants can be passed into breast milk.)
  • Have pericarditis or pericardial effusion - You should not take warfarin
  • Are planning eye surgery, central nervous system surgery, or any surgery involving large, open areas - You should not take warfarin
  • Have malignant hypertension - You should not take warfarin
  • Have ulceration or bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, or urinary tract - You should not take warfarin

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor.

When you are taking anticoagulants, you need to be careful about foods and other medications that may interact with them. Be sure to do the following:

  • Check with your doctor before starting or stopping any other medications, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, or supplements.
  • If you are taking anticoagulant medications, do not take aspirin, medications that contain aspirin, or pain relievers known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (ibuprofen, Advil, or Aleve). You may take acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • If you are taking Coumadin, be very consistent about the amount of foods containing vitamin K that you eat. Ask your doctor or nurse for more information.
  • Tell all your healthcare providers, including your dentist, that you're taking anticoagulants. They need to know this before prescribing anything else.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.