Dicumarol is an anticoagulant, or blood thinning medication, commonly prescribed to prevent the development of blood clot or to stop an existing clot from growing bigger. It is usually given to patients with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and those with increased tendency for clot formation. The main action of dicumarol is to stop the production of Vitamin K, which plays an important role in the blood clotting process, thus it is also referred to as Vitamin K antagonist. This drug generally comes in tablet form and is taken orally. In some countries, such as Canada, dicumarol is not commercially available.
DVT is a condition in which a clot usually forms in the large blood vessels of the leg, often resulting in pain and swelling. Risk factors for DVT include smoking, birth control pills, prolonged bed rest, and obesity. Individuals with DVT are often treated with dicumarol or other forms of anticoagulants to prevent complications. One severe complication of DVT is embolism, which happens when a small clot breaks off from the blood vessel and lodges in another part of the body, such as the blood vessels of the lungs and heart. When this occurs, patients need to be given immediate medical care as this can be a life-threatening situation.
A damaged valve in the heart can be replaced using an artificial heart valve. Having one in place, however, often increases the patient's risk to develop blood clot in the area. Anticoagulants, like warfarin and dicumarol, are usually prescribed in these patients to prevent this complication.
Bleeding can occur while taking dicumarol. Patients are usually advised to take the drug exactly as directed by their physician to prevent this complication. They may also have to regularly visit their doctors for blood tests to monitor their response to treatment.
Several other medications may interact with dicumarol and may either increase or decrease its effects in the body. Examples of drugs that may cause increased bleeding are some types of antibiotics, antifungals, and anticonvulsants. Substances that may lower dicumarol's concentration include alcohol and sedatives.
Patients should immediately inform their doctors if they observe any sign of bruising or bleeding while using dicumarol. These include experiencing nosebleeds and observing blood stool, vomit, or urine. It is also recommended that they refrain from doing sports or activities that can lead to injury.