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What is Coumadin®?

By N. Swensson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Coumadin®, also known by its generic name warfarin, is a blood thinner. Its primary use is to help prevent clots from forming in the blood vessels of people who have had a heart attack or other health problems. Coumadin® usually comes as a pill to be taken orally and is only available with a doctor's prescription. The medication may cause some side effects, which can include excessive bleeding, gangrene, and allergic reactions. People who are taking Coumadin® may need to take certain precautions, including medication and dietary restrictions and wearing a medical alert bracelet, as their blood may not clot as easily.

Coumadin® can be given to people who have had a heart attack in order to help prevent future heart attacks. Other people may take the drug if they have venous thrombosis, a condition that causes blood clots to form in the veins of the legs. Another health problem that can be treated or prevented using this medication is pulmonary embolism, which causes blood clots to form in the lungs and can be fatal in some cases. It may also be prescribed to people who have a prosthetic heart valve or arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat. Since it is only available with a prescription, a doctor can give the best advice on how and when to take this medicine.

One of the more serious side effects of taking Coumadin® is that the blood does not clot as easily. This can cause complications if a person is seriously injured or needs to have surgery. Before having a medical procedure or treatment, it is important to let medical professionals know if you take Coumadin®. People taking the medication should also be aware that it can cause gangrene, allergic reactions, and other serious side effects. Check with a doctor or read the prescription information for a more complete list of potential side effects.

In some cases, people with certain health conditions or who take some other medications may not be able to take Coumadin®. There are a variety of drugs, especially ones that thin the blood, that may have harmful interactions with this medicine. People with hemophilia or other conditions that may affect the blood's ability to clot will usually need a doctor's advice before taking Coumadin®. In addition to these precautions, dietary restrictions may need to be observed. These can include monitoring the intake of vitamin K, cranberries, and licorice. As with most prescription medications, it's a good idea to seek a doctor's advice before taking it.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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