A blood thinner by any other name …would not be the same. I think the term sounds like a combination of paint thinner and anemia! Blood thinners do not make the blood dilute. Rather, they help prevent unwanted formation of blood clots.

There are two general categories of blood thinners: anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents. To understand these medications, it is necessary to realize that blood clots are comprised of two main substances: clumps of platelets and a matrix of thrombin molecules.

Anticoagulation medications prevent the formation of thrombin. The traditional drug for this group is Coumadin® (warfarin). Or, by any other name, rat poison! Coumadin is still the only FDA-approved drug used for several common medical disorders and their associated treatments, such as artificial heart valves and prevention of stroke due to irregular heartbeats (atrial fibrillation). New medications designed specifically for blood clot prevention in humans have entered the U.S. market. I utilize the drug Xarelto® for the prevention and treatment of DVT in my clinic, VEINatlanta. Heparin and Lovenox® are two liquid anticoagulants that can be utilized for a wide variety of applications, but are usually used for only a short period of time.

Antiplatelet agents such as aspirin and Plavix® inhibit platelets from sticking to vessel walls and to each other. Antiplatelets are frequently used to help prevent heart attacks and strokes, and are often prescribed for patients with stents. I recommend aspirin quite often for coronary artery disease, mini-stroke prevention, and small blood clots.

Finally, there are a few dietary supplements that some physicians believe may provide a mild anticlotting effect, such as vitamin E, garlic extract and omega-3 fish oil.