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Updated August 17, 2006

Coumadin Basics:

Coumadin (generic name - warfarin) is in a class of drugs known as anticoagulants. It interferes with blood clotting by depressing the production in the liver of blood coagulation factors that are Vitamin-K dependent.

What is Coumadin Used For?:

It is most often used in the treatment of pulmonary emboli, deep-vein thrombosis, atrial heart arrhythmia, heart attack and post operatively in cardiac valve replacement.

Forms of Coumadin:

It can be given intravenously during an acute or emergency episode. It can also be taken by mouth as maintenance to help keep the blood thinner and prevent recurrent clots. The individual dose is prescribed based on blood work results (prothrombin time or INR). Therapeutic dose for geriatric patients may vary from 2-10 mg. per day by mouth.

Facts About Coumadin:

Taking Coumadin increases the risk of uncontrolled bleeding; hazardous activities that could result in injury should be avoided. Many foods and some drugs interfere with the action of Coumadin by either increasing or decreasing its effectiveness. You must let your doctor know every medication you take (including over-the-counter) and you must follow the diet guidelines. You must also have your blood drawn as ordered to monitor your blood values.

Side Effects of Coumadin:

The most serious side effect of Coumadin is hemorrhage. Even a simple bump that does not break the skin can result in serious bleeding. Other side effects include:
  • hepatitis
  • intestinal bleeding
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • rash

What You Need to Know About Coumadin:

  • take your medication at the same time each day to maintain a steady blood level
  • observe for any signs of bleeding, including black tarry, stools, bleeding gums, blood in urine
  • contact your doctor for any signs of bleeding
  • have blood tests done as ordered
  • let your dentist know you are taking Coumadin before dental work is done
  • avoid hazardous activities or work while on coumadin
  • follow diet closely to avoid foods high in vitamin K
  • Coumadin overdose is treated with vitamin K


Coumadin Health Professional Information , 11/2003; Nursing Drug Reference,Mosby, 2004
More Information on Coumadin

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