RISKS of BLOOD THINNERS AND
ALTERNATIVES TO BLOOD THINNERS
The antithrombotics or medications categorized under the general term of blood thinners are important in preventing and treating conditions that result in blood clot formation or narrowing of blood vessels. Two main categories of antithrombotics are anticoagulants (warfarin, dabigatran, rivaroxaban, apixaban, edoxaban among others) and antiplatelets (aspirin, clopidogrel, Aggrenox among others).
As the name suggests, blood thinners can help prevent or treat unwanted blood clot formation but they indeed slow down or prevent clot formation when this is needed, such as in conditions characterized by bleeding. Overall, brain bleeding is the most feared complication of all blood thinners as relatively small amounts of bleeding into the brain tissue (even 20-30ml, ie less than 1/10th of a soda can) can cause death or severe disability. Not using blood thinners when they are needed can also have grave consequences as they have an established role in preventing potentially fatal blood clots.
More information will be provided in subsections of this part but a good discussion with appropriate experts about the risk/benefits of blood thinners, potential alternatives and other approaches to minimize the risk of bleeding such as blood pressure control are key to decreasing the risk of poor outcomes.