Up until recently, when physicians treated patients for thromboembolism (blood clots) or patients who might be at risk for the development of a blood clot, the only oral drug available was warfarin. Warfarin (brand names Coumadin or Jantoven) has been around for years, and when used appropriately is a safe treatment plan for reducing the risk of stroke and blood clots. Like any medication, there are always potential side effects or risks. Also, like any medication, those risks are weighed against its potential benefits, thereby allowing a treating physician to make the most appropriate treatment plan for an individual patient.
There are four main drawbacks to taking Coumadin or Jantoven:
- Regular blood draws are required to be sure the right dose is being administered (every patient’s dose is specific to their body’s response to the drug).
- There are many potential drug interactions with warfarin that may lead to either an increase or decrease in its blood levels.
- All the cruciferous vegetables (those foods high in Vitamin K, such as cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli) counteract warfarin, making dietary guidelines for anticoagulants very important.
- There is a narrow therapeutic index for warfarin, which, in some patients, may lead to very difficult warfarin dosing. If the blood level is too low it will not be effective and if it is too high, there is an increased chance of bleeding.