Comin' and goin' with coumadin

Over-60 folks with heart conditions are often prescribed coumadin, a blood thinner/anticoagulant that’s supposed to help prevent blood clots and thus supposedly lessen the risk of heart attack. Now comes research written up in the Archives of Internal Medicine saying that if you’re a good candidate for coumadin, you’re not only twice as likely to have a blood clot, but you’re also three times as likely to have a major hemmorrhage–and these kinds of medications can increase that risk. Read the stats
here. Just ain’t no winnin’ the game clean.

And then I think of the restrictions you must put on yourself when you’re taking coumadin–my dad had quadruple bypass at age 70 and lived a much-toned down life until 80, I honestly don’t know how I’ll feel about it if somebody tells me one day that I have to take it for the rest of my life.

A little history of this drug:

“Coumadin (warfarin) was invented at the University of Wisconsin in 1949. It was initially used as a mammalian pesticide since excessive anticoagulation will produce bleeding leading to shock and death. Most current pesticides use a slightly different chemical that has a time release characteristic rather than a one dose effect. However, this drug has been used extensively since the early 1950’s in humans for anticoagulation. Close monitoring is required with the use of this drug to ensure that the right dose is administered. This drug interferes with Vitamin K. Consequently, any change in Vitamin K intake can change the dosage of coumadin. I couldn’t find a history of the animal pesticides. However, it is manufactured by Dupont: # 302-992-5000. They are usually very helpful.”

Many doctors seem convinced that coumadin is benign, but as those who dislike the idea of taking drugs for life have probably already intuited, it’s more likely that with coumadin we’re actually being given a choice between two equally serious dangers.