As of 2015, doctors most commonly prescribe blood thinners, or anticoagulants, such as warfarin, Plavix and aspirin, according to Heart MD Institute. These medications help prevent the formation of clots in the blood and are part of the treatment plan to prevent heart attack and stroke.
Warfarin, also known by its brand name Coumadin, has treated blood clots for over 60 years, reports Heart MD Institute. This drug reduces the level of vitamin K in the blood, which controls the blood's ability to form clots. Patients take warfarin once daily with or without food, notes WebMD. Doctors frequently monitor Coumadin levels with blood tests to maintain therapeutic levels of the medication. Common side effects of the medication include easy bruising and bleeding, anemia, difficulty breathing, and uncontrollable bleeding after receiving a cut. Individuals with these side effects should receive immediate medical attention.
Aspirin and Plavix work differently from warfarin in that they prevent platelets in the blood from clumping together, notes Heart MD Institute. Patients report fewer side effects with these two medications, although some patients tolerate Plavix better than aspirin. Doctors prescribe aspirin to patients with coronary artery disease and those who have undergone stent placement or cardiac surgery.
Xarelto is a newer anticoagulant that prevents deep vein thrombosis in patients after hip and knee surgery. A severe side effect of this medication is uncontrolled bleeding, according to Drugwatch.