Medical Features

[Medication] Taking Wafarin

Post on 16/07/16

Warfarin is an anticoagulant. It decreases the ability of the blood to clot. It therefore helps prevent harmful clots from forming in the blood vessels or heart. It is usually taken once a day. While in hospital, you may be given Heparin by injection for a few days — Heparin is an anticoagulant that is often used while waiting for the dose of oral Warfarin to be stabilised.

Special considerations while taking Wafarin

  • Take only the amount of Warfarin ordered by your doctor. Do not take more or less of it, unless ordered by your doctor. This is especially important for elderly patients who are very sensitive to the effects of Warfarin.
  • If you are going for a surgical operation, including dental procedures, please inform your doctor as Warfarin may need to be stopped before the procedure to prevent excessive bleeding. The medicine may be restarted by your doctor after the procedure when appropriate.
  • A blood test must be taken regularly to see how fast your blood is clotting. This will help your doctor decide on the correct amount of warfarin you should be taking each day. Be sure that you do not miss any appointments for these tests.
  • Take Warfarin at the same time each day.

What should I do if I forget to take a dose?

  • If you miss a dose of Warfarin, take it as soon as you remember. Then go back to your regular dosing schedule
  • If you do not remember until the next day, do not take the missed dose at all and do not double the next one. Doubling the dose may cause bleeding. Instead, go back to your regular dosing schedule
  • To avoid mistakes, it is recommended that you keep a record of each dose as you take it
  • Remember to give your doctor a record of any doses you missed as these may affect your blood test results

What precautions should I follow while using Warfarin?

  • Tell all doctors, dentists, nurses and pharmacists you go to, that you are taking Warfarin
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist before you start or stop taking any other medication. This includes any non-prescription (over-the-counter) medicine and supplements. Many medications change the way Warfarin works and therefore its dosage may need to be changed
  • Avoid sports and activities that may cause you to be injured. Report to your doctor any falls, blows to your body or head, or other injuries, since serious internal bleeding may happen without you knowing about it
  • Be careful to avoid cutting yourself. This includes taking special care in brushing your teeth and in shaving. Use a soft toothbrush and floss gently. It is best to use an electric shaver rather than a blade
  • Drinking too much alcohol may change the way Warfarin works. Avoid alcohol. If you must drink, take no more than a drink at anytime/day
  • Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should inform their doctor. If you become pregnant while taking Warfarin, let your doctor know without delay
  • Do not change to a different brand name Warfarin product because it may have different effects
  • After you have stopped taking Warfarin, your body will need time to recover before your blood clotting ability returns to normal, this may take one week or more (your pharmacist or doctor can tell you how long this will take). Follow the same precautions during this period of time as you did while you were taking Warfarin

What special dietary instructions should I follow while using Warfarin?

  • The food that you eat may affect the way Warfarin works. Eat a normal, balanced diet. Do not go on a reducing diet, make changes in your eating habits, start taking vitamins, or start using other nutrition supplements unless you have first checked with your doctor or pharmacist
  • Consult your doctor if you are unable to eat for several days or if you have continuing stomach upset, diarrhoea, or fever
  • These precautions are important because the effects of Warfarin depend on the amount of vitamin K in your body. It is best to have the same amount of vitamin K in your body every day. Some multiple vitamins and home nutrition supplements contain vitamin K. Vitamin K is also present in meats, dairy products (such as milk, cheese, and yogurt) and green leafy vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale, lettuce and spinach). It is not necessary to avoid these foods entirely, as many of them are good for your health. However, do avoid taking more than your usual amount of such food. It is especially important that you do not make major changes in the amount of these foods that you eat every day while you are taking Warfarin.

What side effects can Warfarin cause?

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occurs:

  • Toes turn blue or purple
  • Pain in the toes
  • Blood in the urine
  • Cloudy or dark urine
  • Bloody or black sticky stools
  • Bruising or purplish areas on the skin
  • Bleeding from gums when brushing teeth
  • Coughing up blood
  • Vomiting blood or material that looks like coffee grounds 
  • Nosebleeds
  • Unusually heavy bleeding or oozing from cuts or wounds 
  • Unusually heavy or unexpected menstrual bleeding 
  • Abdominal or stomach pain or swelling
  • Headache (severe or continuing)
  • Dizziness
  • Back pain or backaches

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