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Taking warfarin (Coumadin) - what to ask your doctor

Warfarin (Coumadin) is a medicine that helps keep your blood from clotting. This may be important if you have already had blood clots, or if your doctor is worried that you may form a blood clot.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your doctor or nurse to help you when you take warfarin.

Questions

Why am I taking warfarin?

  • What is a blood thinner?
  • How does it work?
  • Are there alternative blood thinners I could use?

What will be changed for me?

  • How much bruising or bleeding should I expect?
  • Are there exercises, sports activities, or other activities that are not safe for me?
  • What should I do differently at school or work?

How should I take warfarin?

  • Do I take it every day? Will it be the same dosage? What time of the day should I take it?
  • How can I tell the different warfarin pills apart?
  • What should I do if I am late for a dose? What should I do if I forget to take a dose?

Can I still take acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)? What about other pain medicines? How about cold medicines? What should I do if a doctor gives me a new prescription?

Do I need to make any changes in what I eat or drink? Can I drink alcohol?

Are there changes I should make around the home?

What should I do if I fall?

What are the signs or symptoms that I may be bleeding somewhere in my body?

Do I need any blood tests? Where do I get them? How often?

Alternate Names

Warfarin - what to ask your doctor; Coumadin - what to ask your doctor; What to ask your doctor about taking warfarin (Coumadin)

Update Date: 2/12/2013

Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang

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