If you suffer from certain heart conditions or have had a previous heart attack, your doctor may prescribe anticoagulant medications to reduce the risk of blood clots. A blood clot can decrease or completely block blood flow in a vessel, leading to serious health problems like heart attack or stroke.
Other conditions that may require anticoagulation medications include:
Anticoagulant medications require close monitoring to ensure the therapy is as safe and effective as possible. The SSM Health Heart & Vascular Care team offers an anticoagulation management service to make this easy and convenient for you. Studies have shown that patients who participate in this kind of service have a much lower incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and bleeding complications when compared to patients who are cared for in the usual manner. If your SSM Health provider prescribes anticoagulant therapy, request a referral to participate in this service, and then schedule your initial visit to get started.
What are Anticoagulants?
Anticoagulants are medications used to prevent blood clots from forming or growing larger. Because anticoagulants prevent your blood from clotting, they also make you more susceptible to bleeding. As a result, your SSM Health provider will closely monitor your blood clotting time (INR) and adjust your medication dose to balance the risk of bleeding with the likelihood that you’ll develop blood clots.
Warfarin (Coumadin®) is the most commonly used anticoagulant. While on warfarin, your INR must be checked every four to six weeks. You may require more frequent testing when you first begin taking the medication to determine the correct dose. Your health and safety are our top priority. Our specialized team will work closely while you’re on this potentially life-saving therapy.
Helping You Manage Treatment with Anticoagulants
The SSM Health Heart & Vascular Care team includes specially trained nurses and pharmacists who will assist you in the management of anticoagulation therapy, including warfarin therapy. This service provides patients:
- Blood testing by finger stick
- Immediate INR test results
- Dosage adjustment based on your physician’s INR goal
- Ongoing education about the use of anticoagulant medications, including side effects and potential drug and dietary interactions
- Consultation with a specially trained pharmacist
- Monitored anticoagulation management, including evaluation for side effects and drug and food interactions
- Communication with your physician as needed
- Easy access and a simplified registration process
A visit to check your INR generally lasts about 15 minutes. All results are documented in SSM Health's electronic health record system that is available to your physician. With this service, you can be assured that you’re being monitored closely, so your treatment is as safe and effective as possible.