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If your blood is too thick and forms clots, you could be at risk for heart attack, stroke, and other serious medical problems. Coumadin®/warfarin is a medicine that helps prevent blood clots. The drug is an anticoagulant. "Anti" means against and "coagulant" means to thicken into a gel or solid. Sometimes this drug is called a blood thinner. Think of syrup being poured—it is sticky and thick and flows slowly. Coumadin®/warfarin helps your blood flow easier and not clot.

Some people are more likely to get blood clots. Talk to your doctor to find out if you are at risk.

The doctor decides how much Coumadin®/warfarin you need by testing your blood. The test measures how fast your blood is clotting and lets the doctor know if your dosage should change. If your blood test is too high, you might be at risk for bleeding problems. If it is too low, you might be at risk for forming clots. Your doctor has decided on a range on the blood test that is right for you.

Regulating your blood with Coumadin®/warfarin is like balancing a scale. If you take too much you will increase bleeding; if you take too little, your blood will clot. Getting your blood within the target range is getting it balanced.

When you first start taking Coumadin®/warfarin you may have your blood checked often. Once the blood test is in the target range and the correct dose is reached, this test is done less often. Because your dose is based on the INR blood test, it is very important that you get your blood tested on the date and at the time that you are told.

Use of Other Medications

When Coumadin®/warfarin is taken with other medicines it can change the way other medicines work. Other medicines can also change the way Coumadin®/warfarin works. It is very important to talk with your doctor about all of the other medicines that you are taking, including over-the-counter medicines, antibiotics, vitamins, or herbal products.

Any product containing aspirin may lessen the blood's ability to form clots and may harm you when you take Coumadin®/warfarin. If you take a daily aspirin, talk with your doctor about what dose is right for you.

Other medicines you get over-the-counter may have aspirin in them. All medications must be approved by your doctor, including medicines you have taken before you started Coumadin®/warfarin. Following is a list of some common medications that should be approved by your doctor.

Pain relievers, such as:
  • Excedrin®.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol®).
  • Naproxen (Aleve®).
  • Ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®, Nuprin®, Midol®, Pamprin HB®).
Stomach remedies, such as:
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet HB®).
  • Bismuth Subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol®).
  • Laxatives and stool softeners.
  • Alka-Seltzer®.
Herbal products, such as:
  • Garlic.
  • Green tea.
  • Ginkgo.