Warfarin can cause very serious (possibly fatal) bleeding. This is more likely to occur when you first start taking this medication or if you take too much warfarin.
To decrease your risk for bleeding, your doctor or other health care provider will monitor you closely and check your lab results (INR test) to make sure you are not taking too much warfarin. Keep all medical and laboratory appointments. Tell your doctor right away if you notice any signs of serious bleeding. See also Side Effects section.Who should not take warfarin?
This medication is used to treat blood clots (such as in deep vein thrombosis-DVT or pulmonary embolus-PE) and/or to prevent new clots from forming in your body. Preventing harmful blood clots helps to reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack. Conditions that increase your risk of developing blood clots include a certain type of irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation), heart valve replacement, recent heart attack, and certain surgeries (such as hip/knee replacement).
Warfarin is commonly called a "blood thinner," but the more correct term is "anticoagulant." It helps to keep blood flowing smoothly in your body by decreasing the amount of certain substances (clotting proteins) in your blood.
Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start taking warfarin and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor or other health care professional, usually once a day. It is very important to take it exactly as directed. Do not increase the dose, take it more frequently, or stop using it unless directed by your doctor.
Dosage is based on your medical condition, laboratory tests (such as INR), and response to treatment. Your doctor or other health care provider will monitor you closely while you are taking this medication to determine the right dose for you.
Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time each day.
It is important to eat a balanced, consistent diet while taking warfarin. Some foods can affect how warfarin works in your body and may affect your treatment and dose. Avoid sudden large increases or decreases in your intake of foods high in vitamin K (such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, and other green leafy vegetables, liver, green tea, certain vitamin supplements). If you are trying to lose weight, check with your doctor before you try to go on a diet.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
This medication can cause serious bleeding if it affects your blood clotting proteins too much (shown by unusually high INR lab results). Even if your doctor stops your medication, this risk of bleeding can continue for up to a week. Tell your doctor right away if you have any signs of serious bleeding, including: unusual pain/swelling/discomfort, unusual/easy bruising, prolonged bleeding from cuts or gums, persistent/frequent nosebleeds, unusually heavy/prolonged menstrual flow, pink/dark urine, coughing up blood, vomit that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds, severe headache, dizziness/fainting, unusual or persistent tiredness/weakness, bloody/black/tarry stools, chest pain, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing.
This drug rarely has caused very serious (possibly fatal) problems if its effects lead to small blood clots (usually at the beginning of treatment). This can lead to severe skin/tissue damage that may require surgery or amputation if left untreated. Patients with certain blood conditions (protein C or S deficiency) may be at greater risk. Get medical help right away if any of these rare but serious side effects occur: painful/red/purplish patches on the skin (such as on the toe, breast, abdomen), change in the amount of urine, vision changes, confusion, slurred speech, weakness on one side of the body.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before taking warfarin, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: blood disorders (such as anemia, hemophilia), bleeding problems (such as bleeding of the stomach/intestines, bleeding in the brain), blood vessel disorders (such as aneurysms), recent major injury/surgery, liver disease, alcohol use, mental/mood disorders (including memory problems), frequent falls/injuries.
It is important that all your doctors and dentists know that you take warfarin. Before having surgery or any medical/dental procedures, tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking this medication and about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Avoid getting injections into the muscles. If you must have an injection into a muscle (for example, a flu shot), it should be given in the arm. This way, it will be easier to check for bleeding and/or apply pressure bandages.
This medication may cause stomach bleeding. Daily use of alcohol while using this medicine will increase your risk for stomach bleeding and may also affect how this medication works. Limit alcoholic beverages. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about how much alcohol you may safely drink.
If you have not been eating well, if you have an illness or infection that causes fever, vomiting, or diarrhea for more than 2 days, or if you start using any antibiotic medications, contact your doctor or pharmacist immediately because these conditions can affect how warfarin works.
This medication can cause heavy bleeding. To lower the chance of getting cut, bruised, or injured, use great caution with sharp objects like safety razors and nail cutters. Use an electric razor when shaving and a soft toothbrush when brushing your teeth. Avoid activities such as contact sports. If you fall or injure yourself, especially if you hit your head, call your doctor immediately. Your doctor may need to check you.
The Food & Drug Administration has stated that generic warfarin products are interchangeable. However, consult your doctor or pharmacist before switching warfarin products. Be careful not to take more than one medication that contains warfarin unless specifically directed by the doctor or health care provider who is monitoring your warfarin treatment.
Older adults may be at greater risk for bleeding while using this drug.
This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy because of serious (possibly fatal) harm to an unborn baby. Discuss the use of reliable forms of birth control with your doctor. If you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor immediately. If you are planning pregnancy, discuss a plan for managing your condition with your doctor before you become pregnant. Your doctor may switch the type of medication you use during pregnancy.
Very small amounts of this medication may pass into breast milk but is unlikely to harm a nursing infant. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
See also How to Use section.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Warfarin interacts with many prescription, nonprescription, vitamin, and herbal products. This includes medications that are applied to the skin or inside the vagina or rectum. The interactions with warfarin usually result in an increase or decrease in the "blood-thinning" (anticoagulant) effect. Your doctor or other health care professional should closely monitor you to prevent serious bleeding or clotting problems. While taking warfarin, it is very important to tell your doctor or pharmacist of any changes in medications, vitamins, or herbal products that you are taking.
Aspirin, aspirin-like drugs (salicylates), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, celecoxib) may have effects similar to warfarin. These drugs may increase the risk of bleeding problems if taken during treatment with warfarin. Carefully check all prescription/nonprescription product labels (including drugs applied to the skin such as pain-relieving creams) since the products may contain NSAIDs or salicylates. Talk to your doctor about using a different medication (such as acetaminophen) to treat pain/fever. Low-dose aspirin and related drugs (such as clopidogrel, ticlopidine) should be continued if prescribed by your doctor for specific medical reasons such as heart attack or stroke prevention. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
Many herbal products interact with warfarin. Tell your doctor before taking any herbal products, especially bromelains, coenzyme Q10, danshen, dong quai, fenugreek, garlic, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, and St. John's wort, among others.
This medication may interfere with a certain laboratory test to measure theophylline levels, possibly causing false test results. Make sure laboratory personnel and all your doctors know you use this drug.
If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: bloody/black/tarry stools, pink/dark urine, unusual/prolonged bleeding.
Do not share this medication with others.
Laboratory and/or medical tests (such as INR, complete blood count) must be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.
For the best possible benefit, do not miss any doses. If you do miss a dose and remember on the same day, take it as soon as you remember. If you remember on the next day, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up because this could increase your risk for bleeding. Keep a record of missed doses to give to your doctor or pharmacist. Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you miss 2 or more doses in a row.
Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company for more details about how to safely discard your product.
MEDICAL ALERT: Your condition can cause complications in a medical emergency. For information about enrolling in MedicAlert, call 1-888-633-4298 (US) or 1-800-668-1507 (Canada).
Information last revised March 2014. Copyright(c) 2014 First Databank, Inc.
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