Synonyms: Blood thinners

Medical Specialties: Cardiology

Clinical Definition

Blood thinners are prescription drug medications that diminish the blood’s ability to form clots. Regular blood monitoring is mandated when taking anticoagulant drugs, which may also reduce risk of stroke and irregular heartbeat. These medications may take 5 to 7 days to become fully active. 

In Our Own Words

Sometimes referred to as “blood thinners,” prescription medicines called anticoagulants do not actually thin the blood, but they effectively reduce your risk of stroke and irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) by preventing the formation of blood clots within the human bloodstream. Some anticoagulants are taken orally and some intravenously. Tell your doctor or health provider if you begin to bruise easily, or if your gums start bleeding from taking blood thinners, and she may reconsider your dosage.

Relevant Conditions
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Atrial fibrillation
Common Types
  • Heparin
  • Warfarin
Side Effects
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
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  • The American Heart Association. Heart Conditions. Updated Feb. 2011. Accessed July 2013.
  • Harvard Medical School. Special Heart Health report 2012. Accessed July 2013.
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