Warfarin and heparin are common blood thinners, also known as anticoagulants, according to MedlinePlus. Doctors may also prescribe aspirin and other antiplatelet drugs for those needing blood thinners as they prevent the platelets in the blood from clotting.
Blood thinners are often given to those who have a blood vessel or heart disease, explains MedlinePlus. These drugs may also be prescribed for those who have poor flow of blood to the brain. Blood thinners help to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack by stopping the clotting of blood in the veins and arteries. Blood thinners may also be given if a patient has had heart valve surgery. These medications are also prescribed to those having congenital defects of the heart and those who have atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm.
Anticoagulants, such as warfarin and heparin, work by lengthening the time the body takes to form a clot in the blood, states MedlinePlus. This is done by changing the chemical reactions that take place in the blood. Those who take blood thinners should always remain under the care of a doctor and should offer full disclosure of other medications that are taken in addition to these drugs. It is also important to follow the directions carefully when taking blood thinners.