Anticoagulants & Antiplatelets – What You Need to Know

Prescription-DrugsWhat a mouthful, right? What do these words mean when my doctor tells me I have to take these medications?

If you or a friend or family member has been prescribed an “Anticoagulant or Antiplatelet” let us try and give you a little information.

Both medications reduce blood clotting in an artery, vein or in the heart. Clots can block the blood flow to your heart muscle causing a heart attack. They can also block blood flow to the brain causing a stroke.

Things to know about Anticoagulants:

  • Common names are "Coumadin", "warfarin" ,"heparin" or "Lovenox"
  • You must take them exactly how the doctor prescribed them
  • Regular blood tests tell your doctor how the anticoagulants are working
  • You must tell other doctors or dentists that you are taking anticoagulants
  • Never take aspirin with anticoagulants unless your doctor tells you
  • Tell your family how you take them and carry an ID card


Things to know about Antiplatelets:

  • Aspirin is a medicine that can save your life if you have heart problems
  • You don’t need a prescription to get it
  • You must take it as told by your doctor
  • It has been shown to reduce risk of a heart attack or stroke
  • Might not be taken while you’re having surgery


How can you learn more?

  • Talk to your doctor, nurse or health care professional
  • Call 1-800-AHA –USA 1 (1-800-242-8721), or visit to learn more about heart disease
  • Call 1-888-4-Stroke (1-888-478-7653) or visit to learn more about stroke


Knowledge is Power, so Learn and Live!!!

Submitted by Karen Callahan, RN, and Renne Pfister, RN, Chest Pain Center Coordinators at Franciscan St. Margaret Health

The Chest Pain Centers at both Franciscan St. Margaret Health’s Hammond and Dyer campuses were the first accredited centers in Northwest Indiana and only two of 27 in the state. Accreditation by the Society of Chest Pain Centers means that you can be confident that our Emergency and Cardiac departments have the right specialists, processes and equipment in place to provide the highest level of care for patients experiencing chest pain.