Vitamin K Antagonists [VKAs] or Oral Anticoagulation Therapy is the medicinal use of anticoagulants to reduce the formation of blood clots in our blood vessels. An Anticoagulant is a drug or any substance which helps to slow down the coagulation of blood. If the formation of a blood clot takes place in our blood vessels, it creates a hindrance in the path of blood flow because the blood fails to reach our vital organs. This may lead to a serious heart attack, stroke or hemorrhage.
Anticoagulation therapy is generally given to patients who have Mechanical Heart Valves , Chronic Atrial fibrillation, Venous Thromboembolism (including deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism). The therapy is given oraly in tablet form. These therapies basically intercept the formation of two enzymes; re Vitamin K Epoxide Reductase and Vitamin K Reductase.
Patients who undergo oral anticoagulation therapy are advised to have their PT/INR tested on a regular basis so that their health care providers can adjust the dosage of their anticoagulant. The most common anticoagulant is Warfarin (Coumadin). More recently, new anti- coagulant drugs such as Rivaroxaban, Dabigatran, and Apixaban are also available in the market. Heparin is also available but in the form of an injection.
HOW TO MONITOR?
Patients who are on WARFARIN, a blood thinning medication are directed to measure the level of PT/INR on a regular basis. But being tested in clinics and labs can be hectic and cause a great inconvenience to patients. The best way to measure your PT/INR is through a PATIENT SELF TESTING KIT. It is a portable PT/INR meter that gives your required results in seconds at home. There are many patients who may require a life- long treatment with WARFARIN [COUMADIN] which may create an unnecessary burden on the health care providers because they may need to adjust the doses of WARFARIN according to the results of their PT/INR Test. Patient Self Testing monitoring can help you to get results at home without a lab visit. Just after getting the readings your health care providers will get faxed a detail report which aids in adjusting the correct dosage. Once a patient is stable (usually after 3 months on Warfarin) the prescribed frequency is not more that once per week. It is advised that you do not adjust the doses on your own.
Some common side effects of taking WARFARIN
If you see blood in urine
Bleeding from the nose
If you see any such side effects, immediately contact your doctor or your health care provider.