When Should Patients Seek Medical Help for Bleeding when on Anticoagulants

Dr. Atul Verma, MD, FRCPC, Cardiologist , Southlake Regional Health Centre talks about bleeding while on blood thinners.

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Dr. Atul Verma, MD, FRCPC, Cardiologist , Southlake Regional Health Centre talks about bleeding while on blood thinners.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Atul Verma, MD, FRCPC, Cardiologist, Southlake Regional Health Centre

Duration: 2 minutes, 17 seconds

A lot of people who are prescribed a blood thinner for their atrial fibrillation are very concerned about bleeding. And it is true that being on a blood thinner, there is going to be a somewhat higher risk of having a bleed.

Having said that, overall this risk is still very low. And with the new blood thinners, compared to the older ones, like Warfarin, there’s actually a lower risk of fatal bleeding, or life-threatening bleeding, or bleeds in the brain, which obviously are very, very serious.

The majority of bleeds that are experienced by people on these blood thinners are often considered what we call minor bleeds. These are things like bruises that you find on your skin or cuts that won’t heal as quickly, or minor oozes for example while you’re brushing your teeth.

These are not reasons to stop your blood thinner therapy. You can certainly discuss them with your doctor the next time you see them, but compared to the risk of having a stroke by stopping your therapy, you’re much better to continue it.

The only types of bleeds for which you should end up going to hospital are major bleeds. Bleeds that are coming through your gut, for example, or large volume bleeds. That’s a time when you should visit hospital, and at that time your blood thinner may have to be stopped for a short period of time in order to control the bleeding.

With a lot of these newer drugs, their effects, or half life as we like to call it, are pretty short. So even if you do develop a bleed and it requires you to go to hospital, often stopping the drug and allowing it to wear off is sufficient, and an antidote is not specifically required.

If you want more information about your risks of bleeding and the risk of bleeding versus preventing a stroke with blood thinners, talk more to your family doctor, nurse practitioner, or your cardiac specialist.

Presenter: Dr. Atul Verma, Electrophysiologist, Newmarket, ON

Local Practitioners: Electrophysiologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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