Warfarin may cause severe bleeding that can be life-threatening and even cause death. Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had a blood or bleeding disorder; bleeding problems, especially in your stomach or your esophagus (tube from the throat to the stomach), intestines, urinary tract or bladder, or lungs; high blood pressure; heart attack; angina (chest pain or pressure); heart disease; pericarditis (swelling of the lining (sac) around the heart); endocarditis (infection of one or more heart valves); a stroke or ministroke; aneurysm (weakening or tearing of an artery or vein); anemia (low number of red blood cells in the blood); cancer; chronic diarrhea; or kidney, or liver disease. Also tell your doctor if you fall often or have had a recent serious injury or surgery. Bleeding is more likely during warfarin treatment for people over 65 years of age, and it is also more likely during the first month of warfarin treatment. Bleeding is also more likely to occur for people who take high doses of warfarin, or take this medication for a long time. The risk for bleeding while taking warfarin is also higher for people participating in an activity or sport that may result in serious injury. Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking or plan to take any prescription or nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal or botanical products (See SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS), as some of these products may increase the risk for bleeding while you are taking warfarin. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: pain, swelling, or discomfort, bleeding from a cut that does not stop in the usual amount of time, nosebleeds or bleeding from your gums, coughing up or vomiting blood or material that looks like coffee grounds, unusual bleeding or bruising, increased menstrual flow or vaginal bleeding, pink, red, or dark brown urine, red or tarry black bowel movements, headache, dizziness, or weakness.
Some people may respond differently to warfarin based on their heredity or genetic make-up. Your doctor may order a blood test to help find the dose of warfarin that is best for you.
Warfarin prevents blood from clotting so it may take longer than usual for you to stop bleeding if you are cut or injured. Avoid activities or sports that have a high risk of causing injury. Call your doctor if bleeding is unusual or if you fall and get hurt, especially if you hit your head.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order a blood test (PT [prothrombin test] reported as INR [international normalized ratio] value) regularly to check your body's response to warfarin.
If your doctor tells you to stop taking warfarin, the effects of this medication may last for 2 to 5 days after you stop taking it.
Your doctor or pharmacist will give you the manufacturer's patient information sheet (Medication Guide) when you begin treatment with warfarin and each time you refill your prescription. Read the information carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. You can also visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website (http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm088578.pdf) or the manufacturer's website to obtain the Medication Guide.
Talk to your doctor about the risk(s) of taking warfarin.
Warfarin is used to prevent blood clots from forming or growing larger in your blood and blood vessels. It is prescribed for people with certain types of irregular heartbeat, people with prosthetic (replacement or mechanical) heart valves, and people who have suffered a heart attack. Warfarin is also used to treat or prevent venous thrombosis (swelling and blood clot in a vein) and pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lung). Warfarin is in a class of medications called anticoagulants ('blood thinners'). It works by decreasing the clotting ability of the blood.
Warfarin comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day with or without food. Take warfarin at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take warfarin exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor. Call your doctor immediately if you take more than your prescribed dose of warfarin.
Your doctor will probably start you on a low dose of warfarin and gradually increase or decrease your dose based on the results of your blood tests. Make sure you understand any new dosing instructions from your doctor.
Continue to take warfarin even if you feel well. Do not stop taking warfarin without talking to your doctor.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Eat a normal, healthy diet. Some foods and beverages, particularly those that contain vitamin K, can affect how warfarin works for you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a list of foods that contain vitamin K. Eat consistent amounts of vitamin K-containing food on a week-to-week basis. Do not eat large amounts of leafy, green vegetables or certain vegetable oils that contain large amounts of vitamin K. Be sure to talk to your doctor before you make any changes in your diet. Talk to your doctor about eating grapefruit and drinking grapefruit juice while taking this medication.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it, if it is the same day that you were to take the dose. Do not take a double dose the next day to make up for a missed one. Call your doctor if you miss a dose of warfarin.
change in the way things taste
loss of hair
feeling cold or having chills
difficulty breathing or swallowing
swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, or eyes
chest pain or pressure
swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
lack of energy
loss of appetite
pain in the upper right part of the stomach
yellowing of the skin or eyes
You should know that warfarin may cause necrosis or gangrene (death of skin or other body tissues). Call your doctor immediately if you notice a purplish or darkened color to your skin, skin changes, ulcers, or an unusual problem in any area of your skin or body, or if you have a severe pain that occurs suddenly, or color or temperature change in any area of your body. Call your doctor immediately if your toes become painful or become purple or dark in color. You may need medical care right away to prevent amputation (removal) of your affected body part.
Warfarin may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat, moisture (not in the bathroom), and light. Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
bloody or red, or tarry bowel movements
spitting or coughing up blood
heavy bleeding with your menstrual period
pink, red, or dark brown urine
coughing up or vomiting material that looks like coffee grounds
small, flat, round red spots under the skin
unusual bruising or bleeding
continued oozing or bleeding from minor cuts
Carry an identification card or wear a bracelet stating that you take warfarin. Ask your pharmacist or doctor how to obtain this card or bracelet. List your name, medical problems, medications and dosages, and doctor's name and telephone number on the card.
Tell all your healthcare providers that you take warfarin.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
Last Revised - 04/15/2013
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, 2013. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.