Your doctor could advise taking anticoagulants, often known as long-term blood thinner, if you have atrial fibrillation (AFib). They lessen your chance of having a blood clot-related stroke, which is the most deadly side effect of AFib.
Your doctor will calculate your risk of stroke using a formula. Your risk of stroke can be up to five times higher if you have AFib than if you do. Blood thinners may be more beneficial to you if your risk of stroke is higher.
Blood thinners do, however, have hazards. However, it usually only results in minor bleeding. Your risk for this problem will be determined by your doctor. This will enable both you and your doctor to assess if the risk of serious bleeding exceeds the risk of stroke.
How does AFib increase your risk of Strokes?
With AFib, it is more difficult for your heart to squeeze or contract strongly due to your fast, irregular heartbeat. This slows down the heart’s pumping process, which can lead to blood clot formation and pooling in the upper chamber of the heart.
They may travel to your brain when your heart pumps the clots out. There, they have the potential to obstruct an artery and result in a stroke. The blood clots can also spread to other regions of your body, such your legs or kidneys, where they can stop the blood supply and harm the tissue nearby. The most frequent reason for stroke is clots.
How can blood thinner reduce your risk of Strokes?
Blood thinners don’t actually thin your blood, despite their name. They hinder its ability to clot. Additionally, they can stop new clots from forming even though existing ones cannot be broken up. Blood thinners often cut your chance of having a stroke linked to AFib by more than 50%.
How to interpret stroke risk score?
Your risk of having a stroke is minimal if you receive a score of 0 for men and 1 for women. Before and after your cardioversion treatment for AFib, your doctor might advise you to take a blood thinner for a few weeks.
Your heart receives an electrical shock during cardioversion, which might help it return to a regular beat. You might not need to use a blood thinner for a long time if it works for you.
You have a medium to high chance of having a stroke if you receive 2 or more points for men or 3 or more points for women. Most likely, your doctor will advise long-term blood thinner therapy. All forms of AFib, including paroxysmal, chronic, and permanent AFib, are affected by this.
How should a take a blood thinner?
Warfarin and direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) are the two main categories of blood thinners. Your doctor will likely recommend DOACs unless there is a valid reason why you shouldn’t take them.
DOACs: These more recent blood thinners prevent a protein from helping blood clots from forming. Warfarin may not be as effective in preventing blood clots as DOACs. Additionally, they result in fewer potentially fatal bleeding issues, like brain bleeding.
What are the risks of long-term blood thinner treatment?
The main danger of blood thinners is bleeding. Each person faces a different level of danger. With the more recent drugs, it’s less common. Additionally, since they lose their effect more quickly than warfarin, bleeding issues may not be as severe when they do. Your doctor will calculate your risk of bleeding before you begin taking blood thinners, but it might be higher if you:
- Already experienced significant bleeding
- Utilise medications that might increase your risk of bleeding, such as aspirin and other NSAIDs
- Excessive alcohol consumption
If bleeding does occur, it often isn’t severe. If you cut yourself, for instance, it can take longer for the blood to cease flowing. Additionally, you might bleed from the nose or bruise more easily. Most of the time, your doctor can control these types of bleeding.
Blood thinners can occasionally result in the kinds of bleeding that are fatal. This includes bleeding from your stomach, intestines, or brain. Life-threatening bleeding symptoms include:
- Spitting up blood
- Black, dark, or bloody faeces
- A sudden, debilitating headache