Mind the Side Effects of Medications for Atrial Fibrillation!

Antiplatelets (aspirin) can increase your risk of bleeding. Even though aspirin can be purchased over the counter, it is important that you do not take more than the dose prescribed by your doctor. Report any of the symptoms stated below to your healthcare provider.

Anticoagulants increase risk of bleeding. If you are prescribed warfarin, there is a monthly blood test that is necessary to monitor and achieve optimal dosing.

The newer oral anticoagulants — DOACs — (dabigitran, rivaroxaban, edoxaban and apixaban) do not require the monthly blood test, but care must be taken to take them as directed so that you receive the maximum benefit for stroke prevention.

Important Precautions when taking anti-clotting medications

  • Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any unusual bleeding or bruising
  • If you forget to take your daily anticoagulant dose, don’t take an extra one to catch up! Follow your healthcare provider’s directions about what to do if you miss a dose.

Always talk to your healthcare provider about switching from one anticoagulant to another (including changing to a generic version). Even small variations in the amount of the dose of a medication can cause problems.

  • Always tell you doctor, dentist and pharmacist that you take one of these medicines. This is especially important before you start taking a new medication or have any procedure that can cause bleeding.
  • If you are taking warfarin, discuss any new medications with your healthcare providers. Many drugs change the effects of these agents on the body. Even vitamins (and some foods) could change the effect.

It is also wise to take extra care with contact sports or any other situation that might risk unnecessary trauma. Here are some things to watch for or report to your physician:

  • If you have an accident of any kind
  • If you often find bruises or blood blisters
  • If you feel sick, weak, faint or dizzy
  • If you think you are pregnant
  • If you notice red, dark brown or black urine or stools
  • If you bleed more with periods
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bad headache or stomach ache that won’t go away