Diabetes Self-Management Articles

These articles cover a wide range of subjects, from the most basic aspects of diabetes care to the nitty-gritty specifics.

Links not loading properly?

Some of our pages use Portable Document Format (PDF) files, which require Adobe Acrobat Reader. To download Acrobat Reader for free, visit www.adobe.com.

Sign up for our weekly e-mail newsletter and receive a FREE GIFT! Enter your e-mail below.

Learn more

Learn more about diabetes

Links to help you learn more about diabetes.

Ask a diabetes expert
Other diabetes resources
Browse article topics

 

Anticoagulant Drugs

Drugs that prevent the coagulation, or clotting, of blood. Although they’re often called “blood thinners,” anticoagulants don’t dilute the blood—they increase the amount of time it takes for blood to form a clot by interfering with the cascade of reactions that causes clotting. They are used to prevent and/or treat a number of conditions, including deep vein thrombosis (clotting in the deep veins of the legs, pelvis, or arms), pulmonary embolism (when a traveling clot cuts off the blood supply to part of the lungs), heart attacks, strokes, and clotting in people using dialysis machines or those with a replacement heart valve.

Clotting is an essential part of the healing process, closing up wounds so that you don’t bleed to death. However, clots can be dangerous if they form in areas where the inner linings of blood vessels have been damaged (which can be caused by stresses such as smoking, high blood pressure, or high blood glucose levels) or in places where blood pools, such as in the atria (the upper chambers of the heart) when the heart’s contractions don’t completely empty them of blood. These clots may narrow blood vessels (restricting blood flow) or a piece of the clot may break off and travel through the circulatory system until it blocks off a blood vessel, leading to problems like stroke and heart attack. People with diabetes are at increased risk for atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that can allow blood to pool and clot in the atria. Anticoagulant therapy may be recommended to reduce the risk of stroke for people with atrial fibrillation.

Anticoagulants inhibit the production of thrombin (an enzyme, or catalytic molecule, that helps in the formation of fibrin) and the formation of fibrin (the material that makes up the matrix of clots). The main varieties of anticoagulants include heparin, low-molecular-weight heparins such as dalteparin (brand name Fragmin) and enoxaparin (Lovenox), and coumarins (vitamin K antagonists) such as warfarin (Coumadin) and dicumarol. Heparin and low-molecular-weight heparins are given by injection and are usually used as short-term therapy. Coumarins, which are mostly pills (warfarin is also available as an injection), are used for longer-term therapy.

A person’s dose of an anticoagulant must be carefully adjusted to a level that’s just high enough to be effective without unduly increasing the risk of bleeding problems. Because of this, if you are prescribed an anticoagulant, you will need to have your prothrombin time (the time it takes for a sample of your blood to clot) tested frequently in your doctor’s office or at a laboratory when you start taking it. After a suitable dose has been determined, these tests will be scheduled about once a month.

Anticoagulants can increase the risk of bleeding. You may require medical attention if you notice unexpected bruising, dizziness, tiredness, chills, severe or long-lasting skin rash, stomach pain, unusually heavy menstrual periods, black stools, or any unusual bleeding.

Changes in your diet (especially your intake of foods rich in vitamin K such as vegetable oils, legumes, and leafy green vegetables), drinking alcohol, or coming down with a cold or diarrhea can all affect the activity of an anticoagulant.

A number of drugs can also affect the action of anticoagulants. Acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and others), and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) can increase the risk of bleeding problems when taken with an anticoagulant. Supplements containing herbs such as feverfew, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, and ginseng have also been shown to augment the effects of some anticoagulants. Vitamin supplements containing vitamin K or vitamin E should also be used with caution.

Page    1    2    Show All    

 

 

More articles on Diabetes Definitions

 

 


Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.

 

 

Pulmonary Embolism
A sudden blockage of an artery in the lung. In most cases, the blockage is caused by a blood... Article

Atrial Fibrillation
A specific type of cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) in which the upper chambers of the... Article

Medication Mishaps Common, But You Can Avoid Them
My kitchen looks like a war zone, with bits and pieces of honey cake scattered hither, thither,... Blog

What are some risk factors for cardiovascular disease? Get tip


Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring — Part 1: The Gear
Blood glucose self-monitoring is one of the keys to diabetes control. Here are the tools you need to carry out this task.

Perfectionism: An Impossible Goal in Diabetes Management
Striving for good self-care is important, but perfectionism can make diabetes care — and life — more difficult.

Recipes for Spring
Enjoy recipes for Baked salmon on beet greens, Tofu and snow pea slaw, Radish and cucumber salad, Spinach pinwheels, Beet salad with citrus dressing, and Stuffed berries.

Complete table of contents
Get a FREE ISSUE
Subscription questions