Anticoagulation UK


Why you may need anticoagulants

You may need to take anticoagulants, if you have been diagnosed with or have had one of the following:

  • Atrial fibrillation (AF)
  • Artificial heart valve
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Pulmonary embolism (PE)
  • Genetic clotting disorder
  • Stroke
  • Heart Attack

Sometimes it is only necessary to take anticoagulants for a few months. In other circumstances you will take them for life. Your health care professional will tell you how long to take them for. Do not stop taking them unless your doctor or nurse tells you to you.

Anticoagulant drugs affect the blood's ability to clot and therefore there is an increased risk of bleeding for people who are taking them. Because of this risk, it is vitally important to take the medication exactly as directed.

Going to the dentist whilst taking anticoagulants

Good dental hygiene is vitally important for everyone. Links have been shown between poor dental hygiene and heart disease.

Most dental treatment can go ahead as normal without your anticoagulant being stopped. Make sure your dentist knows that you are taking an anticoagulant well before your appointment date. If you are taking warfarin you should have an INR test in the week before your appointment.

If you have a prosthetic heart valve The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) no longer recommends that an antibiotic be given to prevent infection, which can cause endocarditis, when having dental treatment. However if you have had endocarditis in the past or your cardiologist says you are at risk of endocarditis then discuss with your dentist about being prescribed an antibiotic.

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Patient choice of anticoagulants – what to do if you feel you were not given a choice

If you are advised that you need to take an anticoagulant, it can be helpful and reassuring to discuss the options with your doctor to ensure you are able to make the right choice with their guidance. Once you have left hospital, you may continue to be cared for by your GP and they will need to know what treatment you are taking, the duration recommended and whether you need to have regular monitoring.

All anticoagulants have been approved by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and approved by the Scottish Medicines Consortium.

Learn more about what you can do if you feel that your personal circumstances and wishes were not taken into consideration and to see the NICE and SMC guidance references below:

Patient choice of anticoagulants – what to do if you feel you were not given a choice
NICE & SMC guidance