Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
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Why Do People Need Blood Thinners and Is There a Natural Alternative?

Friday, 11 Jun 2010 04:23 PM

Question: Why do people need blood thinners and what are the risks of blood thinners? Are there natural ways to thin the blood?
Dr. Hibberd's Answer:
Blood thinners are agents that extend our clotting or our coagulation times. The major risks are related to uncontrolled bleeding or even spontaneous bleeding in the absence of any trauma.
They are used in defined doses that, when properly monitored, are generally safe to use in pre-screened populations of at-risk patients.
Some agents affect platelet (a blood component responsible for the initial plug that stops initial bleeding while our coagulation cascade is activated) function and basically impair function for variable periods (such as aspirin, Plavix, persantine etc). There are even more potent platelet inhibitors used in heart cath labs at times of intervention that are only available intravenously.
Then there are the traditional blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin or rat poison!), heparin, and LMWH products such as Lovenox that are potent inhibitors of blood clot formation. The dosing needed is precise to avoid uncontrolled bleeding episodes. There are no approved natural products that can be safely used or recommended.
Our clotting and coagulation sequences are essential for circulation and prevention of hemorrhage. While there are many products available naturally that will affect our clotting and coagulation, it would be foolish to recommend them absent appropriate safety and monitoring data.

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