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What does a blood thinner do?

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Quick Answer

Blood thinners reduce blood clotting in the blood vessels in order to prevent stroke and heart attack, which occur when blood clots prevent sufficient blood supply to important organs such as the heart and brain, according to Healthline. Doctors recommend blood thinners for patients with heart diseases such as heart valve disease and irregular heart rhythms.

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Full Answer

Main types of blood thinners include anticoagulants and antiplatelets, states MedlinePlus. Anticoagulants prolong blood clotting and include warfarin and heparin. Antiplatelets, on the other hand, hinder clot formation by preventing the sticking together of the blood platelets in the blood vessels. One example of an antiplatelet is aspirin.

Blood thinners may interact with foods that are rich in vitamin k; herbs such as chamomile, evening primrose oil and gingko biloba; and certain medications including antibiotics, painkillers and acid reducers, leading to ineffectiveness, says Healthline. Cranberry juice and alcoholic beverages also interact with blood thinners. To avoid the interactions, patients should inform their doctors of specific foods, herbs and medications they take in advance.

Though helpful, blood thinners may be harmful to the body health because they may lead to bleeding in the form of nosebleeds, heavy menses, bloody feces and gum bleeding, states Healthline. Blood thinners may also result in the loss of hair, weak muscles and rashes. A patient should seek medical care when the side effects of blood thinners appear.

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