What is Coumadin used for?
COUMADIN is the brand name of the generic drug warfarin sodium. It is common referred to as a “blood thinner”. Coumadin is an anticoagulant that helps to keep blood flowing in the body without unwanted restrictions. It prevents the formation of blood clot by inhibiting the activity of vitamin K-dependent coagulation factors (clotting proteins) in the body.
Coumadin is used in the treatment of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolus which is as a result of blood clots formation and to prevent the formation of new blood clots that may be caused by atrial fibrillation, heart valve replacement, recent heart attack and some types of surgery. Coumadin is used to prevent heart attacks, and strokes.
The medication should not be used by patients with bleeding disorders, those who just had recent surgery or those about to have surgery. Coumadin should not be used in patients who have blood in their urine or stools, or those with bleeding in their abdominal linings and brain.
Pregnant women should not use Coumadin without medical advice. Coumadin should not be used by patients who cannot use it as directed and on time every day for the recommended duration.
The dosing of Coumadin depends on individual patient’s International Normalized Ratio (INR) response to the drug and this will be determined by your doctor.
Coumadin should be taken every day with or without food as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take a double dose of the medication, less than or more than the dose prescribed by your doctor and ensure you take the drug at the same time every day.
The usual dose for Coumadin is 2- 5 mg once daily and a maintenance dose of 2- 10 mg once daily is recommended. This dose should not be changed without seeking medical advice.
Coumadin toxicity can occur as a result of taking an overdose of Coumadin. Some of the symptoms of Coumadin overdose may include: bloody or dark urine and stool, and unusual or prolonged bleeding. These effects may be reversed by stopping treatment with Coumadin or by administering oral or parenteral vitamin K1.
All symptoms of Coumadin toxicity should be reported as soon as they are observed.
SIDE EFFECTS OF COUMADIN
The most common Coumadin side effects include the following:
Bloating or gas
Unusual sense of taste
Stomach Pain and Cramping
Fatigue and Weakness
These side effects usually go away with time, but if they persist you should contact your doctor for help.
The serious side effects of Coumadin include:
Side, back, muscle, joint, or stomach pain
Coffee ground substance or bloody vomit
Skin ulcers or sores
Blood in the urine
Unusual bruising or bleeding
Unusual headache or weakness
Black or tarry stools
Unusual skin color/pale skin
Temperature change in any body part
Shortness of breath
Bruising or pain in toes
Delay in the healing of wounds
Unusual pain, swelling, or discomfort
Jaundice or yellowing of skin or eyes
If you observe any of the above effects, stop taking Coumadin and seek medical assistance immediately.
Coumadin and Diet
Foods that are rich in Vitamin K should be avoided when using Coumadin. This is due to the fact that vitamin K can reduce the efficacy of Coumadin by inhibiting its ability to prevent clot formation. Such foods include green leafy vegetables, liver and vegetable oils.
Coumadin and alcohol should not be taken together because alcohol can increase the blood thinning effects of Coumadin and this may result in the patient getting bruised easily, and also bleeding easily. It may also lead to a greater expression of some of the side effects such as vomiting or blood in urine and stool. However, moderate consumption of alcohol is not likely to increase the side effects in patients with normal liver functions.
Products containing cranberry such as supplements with cranberry in them, cranberry juice, and cranberries should be avoided as they can worsen some of the side effects of Coumadin.
Non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Tylenol, Indocin, Aleve, Naprosyn, Celebrex, Advil, Motrin, Voltaren, Cataflam, or Feldene should be avoided because they have hazardous interactions with Coumadin.
Any change in weight while taking Coumadin should be reported to your doctor as soon as they are observed.