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Being careful with coumadin

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TWC News: Being careful with coumadin
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In an effort to save money, consumers are buying more over-the-counter medication, but health experts want people to know that coumadin without prescription could lead to a lot of trouble.

Coumadin is often prescribed for people who have heart surgery or vascular complications.

"Coumadin is an anti-coagulant drug which works on the vitamin K synthesis, so it works by reducing the body's ability to clot," pharmacist Paul Flatley said.

He said taking too much of coumadin can be deadly.

"We are talking about a drug that works on the coagulant cascade. You can bleed out, so you can lead to stroke, death, ischemic events," Flatley said.

Coumadin works on thinning the blood. Over the counter products can effect enzymes which metabolize coumadin, such as Zantac which is used to treat acid reflux.

"There is a drug class called proton pump inhibitors. They are used for GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) and reflux to decrease the body's acidity, so somebody who is taking that could affect the coumadin dose if they are taking that in prescription medication," Flatley said.

While coumadin is a blood thinner, vitamin K is in the blood clotting process they work against each other. Vitamin K has to be prescribed by the doctor, but it is available in what we eat, specifically green, leafy vegetables.

"I tell it's an important medication and definitely contact their pharmacist or health care professional to tell them what else they are on,” Flatley said. “If they are prone to falls, or cutting, using knives, we have to worry about people bleeding out as well."

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