What medications cause blood thinning?

Blood clotting is a vital process as it prevents excessive bleeding when you get injured. But, in some cases, excess blood clots can cause problems like stroke, heart attack, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

So what do we do in these situations? We need to find out which medications are used to thin the blood and reduce the risk of such diseases from occurring.

Here’s an overview of medications that could be prescribed by your doctor for their anticoagulation properties:


Heparin is a medication administered via injection or intravenous infusion. It helps prevent clots from forming by interfering with one of the proteins needed for coagulation. The effects occur quickly but typically only last several hours at most.

Fun fact: Heparin was first discovered in 1916 by Jay McLean (the son of actor William McLean) whilst studying liver extracts for its procoagulant activity!


Warfarin has been widely used since 1950 as an anticoagulant medication aimed at preventing inappropriate formation of clots within the cardiovascular system. Its mechanism of action involves interfering with vitamin K-dependent factors responsible for clotting.

One downside though – warfarin interacts with many commonly consumed foods like grapefruit and green vegetables due to many negatively affecting its metabolism. Indeed this makes finding an appropriate dosing regimen challenging!

Interested factoid: Before becoming popular as a warfarinic rodenticide, it was initially researched as potential-use drug during World War II because soldiers were peeling potatoes so fast they kept bleeding all over!


Rivaroxaban has been approved in various countries worldwide due to being selectively inhibited factor-Xa (subsequently blocking activation). This carries less bleed-risk than older-generation anticoagulants like unfractionated heparin, particularly considering its once daily dosing. Its usage is often for those with venous thromboembolism or atrial fibrillation.

Cool tidbit: Originally discovered by Bayer scientists who intentionally wanted to create a blockbuster drug!


Dabigatran is an oral medication designed to directly inhibit the activity of thrombin – one of the main elements within our clotting cascade. Its unique pharmacokinetics boast predictably steady-state blood concentration characteristics which facilitate accurate and predictable dose titration schedules.

Totally cool thing fact: The ancient Egyptians used moldy bread to make a paste that was applied on wounds as it turned out being naturally rich in anticoagulants including 4-hydroxycoumarins, what warfarin (our previously mentioned drug) is!


Similarly like rivaroxaban, apixaban also selectively inhibits Factor Xa; however it displays a slight bias towards free-floating plasma-bound molecules. Clinical studies have found decreased bleed risk versus warfarin in acute treatment patients for VTE and stroke prevention in AFib

Thumbs up trivia point: It’s approved across Europe under the trademark marketed name Eliquis; Pfizer suggest this ends up sounding similar to “elegance”!


Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) unlike these others options described here isn’t actually classified strictly as an anticoagulant drug… but instead is known merely as an “antiplatelet” therapy-due to irreversibly removing enzymes associated with platelet function from active use.

It functions primarily through inhibition of cyclooxygenase effect- ultimately lowering pro-thrombotic effects via decreasing production levels we call ‘thromboxane A2’.

Nonetheless aspirin has been broadly utilized worldwide because it’s cheap/easy, and can be given to patients with earlier cardiovascular diseases like ischemic heart disease or stroke.

Note: Despite its general advantageous reputation, long-term aspirin use’s been linked with Clopidogrel resistance build up & increased bleed risk.

Factors That Influence Blood Thinners

Now that we have explored some common medications used as anticoagulation methods let’s talk about the factors that may influence such drugs.

Factors like liver functionality disorders; oral contraceptives usage in females and fall-risk behaviour patterns potentially impacts a patient’s management therapeutic plan!

Some other potential variables which could affect medication needs encompass regular intake of certain vegetables… indeed this may be particularly relevant for those dosing warfarin (as previously mentioned).

Regardless it’s essential that your physician carefully explains necessary lab tests often times necessitated for assessing their dosage quotient properly!


In conclusion, blood thinning medications are complex but beneficial options utilized when dealing with excessive clotting conditions within our body.

However, choosing the right course of treatment might not always prove easy given all the many influencing parameters. Still know your own health condition well enough to pose good questions to your healthcare provider when seeking information!

With everything said – remember, never stop consuming these types without first discussing potential negative consequences with a qualified practitioner.