How Long Do Blood Thinners Stay in Your System?

How Long Do Blood Thinners Stay in Your System? – Introduction

The human body is a constantly working system. All the vital organs and their respective organ systems continue working from the birth to the death of a human being. Due to the efficient working of these systems, we continue to live and function properly.

However, due to a simple malfunction or disruption in the working of either of these organ systems, our health may get significantly compromised.

One such malfunction is the formation of blood clots or ‘thrombi’ within the blood vessels that could put an individual at risk of several cardiovascular diseases and emergencies, such as heart attacks, venous thrombosis, and strokes.

The downside regarding the formation of blood clots is that they are usually silent, and a person only gets to know about them when it is too late. Appropriate lifestyle modifications and correct interventions taken at the right time help prevent the complications of such emergencies.

Among these timely interventions, the use of blood thinners stands out as the initial and one of the most useful ones.

What are Blood Thinners?

The term’ blood thinner’ may be concerning and frightening for many people, but be assured that these medications have specific indications made by doctors.

‘Blood thinner’ is the layman’s term for ‘anticoagulants.’ These anticoagulants are agents that work to ensure that the different components inside the blood do not stick to each other, thus preventing the formation of clots inside the bloodstream. (1)

They have little to no role in thinning your blood, hence serving as a clear misnomer. They only make sure that your blood does not ‘coagulate,’ for that will ultimately lead to the formation of clots, thus putting you at risk for stroke, heart attacks, and other such emergencies.

Blood thinners or anticoagulants have been seen to show highly effective results when used in the correct dosage and according to the prescribed schedule. (2)

How do Blood Thinners Work?

To understand the working mechanism of blood thinners, it is essential to know about the process of hemostasis or the formation of a blood clot that goes on in our bodies once an injury to the tissues occurs. (3)

Here is a summary of what goes on when this happens:

  • Once an injury to the tissue occurs, the endothelial cells (the cells that line the inner face of blood vessels) and platelets present in the blood vessels release the Von Willebrand factor (VWF). This Von Willebrand Factor is responsible for assembling the platelets in one place and helping them attach to the damaged vascular surface.
  • Once this happens, various proenzymes that are part of the coagulation cascade start getting activated. The extrinsic and intrinsic pathways of the coagulation cascade also come into action, and blood clot propagation can be seen in this stage. This coagulation cascade leads to the serial activation of various factors, resulting in the formation of a stable clot by the breakdown of thrombin into fibrin.
  • Next, the antithrombin control mechanism springs into action and prevents the formation of clots so that no excessive thrombi are found in the bloodstream. This prevents the risk of vascular inflammation, tissue damage, and thrombosis.
  • Lastly, ‘fibrinolysis,’ or blood clots removal, occurs. This step is vital for ensuring tissue healing and remodeling. (4)

So, anticoagulants or blood thinners are categorized into different types depending on their modes and sites of action.

Blood thinners work at different points of the coagulation cascade to ensure that no excessive clots other than those needed to stop any bleeding are forming inside an individual’s body. (5)

They do so by exerting their specific mechanism of action; some do so by preventing the synthesis of clotting factors (the members of the coagulation cascade) in the liver (Vitamin K-dependent antagonists); some do so by binding to thrombin and preventing its breakdown into a stable clot; whereas others exert their action by inhibiting various enzymes in the coagulation cascade. (6)

For How Long Do Blood Thinners Stay in Our Bodies?

The answer to this question depends on the type of blood thinner being discussed. The reason for this is that the different types of blood thinners that exist to date have their mechanism of action and, therefore, have their half-lives as well.

Generally, an anticoagulant could take hours to days to stay in your system. For example, blood thinners such as Warfarin are seen to have a longer half-life, which makes it able to last for a few days (approximately 20 to 60 hours) in your bloodstream. (7)

In contrast, Apixaban and Rivaroxaban typically last about 12 to 24 hours. Lastly, low molecular weight heparin, namely Lovenox, can last 12 to 24 hours. (8) (9)

The duration of stay in the bodies of people who take blood thinners varies from person to person and mainly on the mechanism by which these drugs work inside the body.

What is Done to Optimize The Functioning of Blood Thinners?

Since it has been established that blood thinners have their mechanisms of action, there exist a few strategies that physicians may direct to ensure that they work to their fullest potential, thereby decreasing the risk of venous thromboembolism and other cardiac emergencies and decreasing the risk of side effects: (10)

  • Doctors individualize their patients’ dosages based on their current lab values. You can always ask your physician which time is best for you and subsequently take your daily medicines at that time only.
  • It is best if people who are on blood thinners avoid doing strenuous or exertional activities. This is because all those activities make a person vulnerable to developing bleeding risks.
  • Missing a dose of your blood thinner is never a good idea, and in case a person mistakenly does so, it is highly recommended not to take a double dose to make up for the missed one.

Understanding these measures can help optimize the usage of blood thinners and ensure that you have a healthy and risk-free life for a long time.


Blood thinners or anticoagulants help keep the blood smooth and free from clots of every size and shape. In case this happens and clots form inside the bloodstream, a person may become vulnerable to developing heart attacks, stroke, and other emergencies that might become difficult to control at that time.

Blood thinners work by altering different levels of the coagulation cascade, which is a process of hemostasis that works to form clots when any tissue injury occurs.

However, blood thinners are not recommended for everyone to take at their leisure; rather, they are reserved only for patients with indications for use under the guidance of health professionals.

Blood thinners are effective when taken according to their scheduled timings and in the prescribed dosages. They can indeed help people lead symptom-free and disease-free life for a long, long time.

See Also

Blood Thinners Side Effects

Is Tylenol A Blood Thinner

Do Blood Thinners Make You Tired

Is Ibuprofen a Blood Thinner

Do Blood Thinners Decrease Blood Pressure

Do Blood Thinners Affect Oxygen Levels

What is Creatinine Level in Blood Tests

Current Version
March 10, 2024
Updated By
Andleeb Asghar, PharmD
April 19, 2023
Written By
Andleeb Asghar, PharmD
  1. What are blood thinners (anti-clotting medication) and how are they used? [Internet]. [Internet]. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2017 [cited 2023 Apr 1]. Available from:
  2. Anticoagulants: A Review of the Pharmacology, Dosing, and Complications – PMC [Internet]. [cited 2023 Apr 2]. Available from:
  3. Chaudhry R, Usama SM, Babiker HM. Physiology, Coagulation Pathways. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2023 Apr 2]. Available from:
  4. Smith SA, Travers RJ, Morrissey JH. How it all starts: initiation of the clotting cascade. Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 2015;50(4):326–36. How it all starts: initiation of the clotting cascade – PMC (
  5. Harter K, Levine M, Henderson SO. Anticoagulation Drug Therapy: A Review. West J Emerg Med. 2015 Jan;16(1):11–7. Anticoagulation Drug Therapy: A Review – PMC (
  6. Frappé P, Cogneau J, Gaboreau Y, Abenhaïm N, Bayen M, Guichard C, et al. Anticoagulants’ Safety and Effectiveness in General Practice: A Nationwide Prospective Cohort Study. Ann Fam Med. 2020 Mar;18(2):131–8. Anticoagulants’ safety and effect… preview & related info | Mendeley
  7. Patel S, Singh R, Preuss CV, Patel N. Warfarin. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2023 Apr 2]. Available from:
  8. Jupalli A, Iqbal AM. Enoxaparin. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2023 Apr 2]. Available from:
  9. Singh R, Emmady PD. Rivaroxaban. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2023 Apr 2]. Available from:
  10. Amaraneni A, Chippa V, Rettew AC. Anticoagulation Safety. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2023 Apr 2]. Available from:

Follow us