Warfarin (Coumadin)

Warfarin is a commonly prescribed medication used to thin the blood of patients at risk of blood clots. Commonly referred to by its brand name Coumadin, the medication is routinely used to treat blood clots in patients who have heart diseases such as atrial fibrillation, valvular heart disease or artificial heart valves. Here are some common questions related to the use of warfarin:

Are there medical tests that accompany a prescription of Coumadin?

Yes. Protime (or PT/INR) tests that measure the speed of blood clot development may be required every day for the first few days after starting the medication, and then perhaps once per week afterwards. This will help your healthcare provider give you the dosage of Coumadin that is right for you. Once your healthcare provider decides on the right dosage, you will probably need protime tests less often.

What things may impact my protime test results?

Several things, such as sickness, diet, prescription and over-the-counter medications or physical activities may affect your PT/INR. Tell your healthcare provider about changes in your health, any medications you are taking or your exercise regimen so he or she can adjust your dosage of Coumadin, if needed.

What else should I do to ensure the effectiveness of Coumadin?

  • Take your Coumadin exactly as your healthcare provider tells you.
  • Keep eating habits and activities similar every day.
  • Get your blood tested when your doctor advises.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about any other medicines you are taking. Also, ask your healthcare provider before you change, start or stop taking any other medications.
  • Tell your doctor when you get sick, hurt or get a cut that won’t stop bleeding.
  • Look for signs of bleeding.
  • Tell anyone giving you medicine or dental care that you are taking Coumadin.
  • Refill your prescriptions according to your doctor’s orders.

What should I not do?

  • Don’t take an extra pill of Coumadin if you miss a dose in order to catch up.
  • Don’t take Coumadin if you are pregnant or may become pregnant.
  • Do not take any other medicines before asking your healthcare provider.
  • Don’t drastically alter your diet.
  • Never drink alcohol while taking Coumadin.
  • Ask your physician before starting any strenuous activity or sport.