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.

Amongst these timely interventions, the usage of blood thinners stands out to be as the initial and one of the most useful ones.

What are Blood Thinners?

The term’ blood thinner’ may stand out to be a concerning and frightening one for many people out there, 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 present 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 making your blood thin, 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 are also seen to come into action, and blood clot propagation could be seen in this stage. This coagulation cascade leads to the activation of various factors serially, and the end result is the formation of a stable clot by the breakdown of thrombin into fibrin.
  • Next, the anti-thrombin control mechanism springs into action and prevents the formation of clots so that no excessive thrombi are found in the bloodstream. Doing so prevents the risk of vascular inflammation, tissue damage, and thrombosis.
  • Lastly, ‘fibrinolysis,’ or the removal of blood clots, takes place. 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 make sure that no excessive clots other than the ones needed to stop any bleeding are forming inside the body of an individual. (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 that is being discussed. The reason for this is the fact that the different types of blood thinners that exist to date have their individual mechanism of action and, therefore, have their individual half-lives as well.

Generally, it could take hours to days for an anticoagulant 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 40 hours) in your bloodstream. (7)

In contrast, Apixaban and Rivaroxaban are seen to disappear from the body within a day. Lastly, low molecular weight heparin, namely Lovenox, is seen to wear off after about 12 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 individual 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)

  • Blood thinners, especially warfarin, work best in the afternoons or evenings. Doing so helps doctors individualize the dosages of their patients based on their current lab values. You can always ask your physician which time is the 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. The reason for this is the fact that 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 in optimizing the usage of blood thinners and ensure that you have a healthy and risk-free life for a long, long time.

Conclusion

Blood thinners or anticoagulants are agents that 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 very 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?

  1. What are blood thinners (anti-clotting medication) and how are they used? [Internet]. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2017 [cited 2023 Apr 1]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279433/
  2. Anticoagulants: A Review of the Pharmacology, Dosing, and Complications – PMC [Internet]. [cited 2023 Apr 2]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3654192/
  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: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482253/
  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 (nih.gov)
  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 (nih.gov)
  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: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470313/
  8. Jupalli A, Iqbal AM. Enoxaparin. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2023 Apr 2]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539865/
  9. Singh R, Emmady PD. Rivaroxaban. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2023 Apr 2]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557502/
  10. Amaraneni A, Chippa V, Rettew AC. Anticoagulation Safety. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2023 Apr 2]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519025/

Follow us