If you're taking a blood thinner, is it still possible to get a blood clot?
Answers from Rekha Mankad, M.D.
Yes. Medications that are commonly called blood thinners — such as aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven), dabigatran (Pradaxa), rivaroxaban (Xarelto), apixaban (Eliquis) and heparin — significantly decrease your risk of blood clotting, but will not decrease the risk to zero.
These medications must be taken exactly as directed to work safely and effectively. Taking too little of these medications may not be effective, and taking too much can lead to serious bleeding.
Also, blood thinners may not be able to lessen the strong blood-clotting tendency of an underlying disease, such as cancer.
Interactions with other medications, food and alcohol are common with warfarin. These interactions are less so with other blood-thinning medications.
However, any interactions may decrease the effectiveness of your blood thinner, making you more likely to develop blood clots. If you take a blood thinner, be sure to follow your doctor's advice on dosing and ask about foods and other medications — including over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements — that may interfere with safety and efficacy of the blood thinner.
March 20, 2015
See more Expert Answers
- Blood thinner pills: Your guide to using them safely. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/btpills.htm. Accessed Jan. 26, 2015.
- A patient's guide to taking warfarin. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/PreventionTreatmentofArrhythmia/APatientsGuidetoTakingWarfarin_UCM_444996_Article.jsp. Accessed Jan. 26, 2015.
- DeMartino RR, et al. Variation in thromboembolic complications among patients undergoing commonly performed cancer operations. Journal of Vascular Surgery. 2012;55:1035.
- A patient's guide to antithrombotic and thrombolytic therapy. American College of Chest Physicians. http://www.chestnet.org/Search#q/q=patient%27s%20guide%20to%20antithrombotic. Accessed Jan. 26, 2015.
- Litin SC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 28, 2015.