WICHITA FALLS, TX–They can be the best line of defense for people with a higher risk of a strokes, heart attacks or blood clots. While it may be just what the doctor ordered, blood thinners create a serious side effect most people don’t realize they have, until the unexpected happens.
Anytime we’re cut, our body produces a natural mechanism that causes blood to clot. Blood thinners impede that mechanism, and causes you to bleed excessively.
United Regional’s Trauma Medical director, Brett May says blood thinners are often prescribed to older patients with a history of heart conditions, which can land them in an even more dangerous situation if they fall and get hurt, especially if they take a blow to the head.
“We can have some movement of the brain inside the skull, and so what happens is we have little tiny veins that bridge between our brain and the skull, and as our brain shrinks those veins stretch and just a little bit of movement can tear those vessels,” says Dr. May. “So even minor falls or minor injuries can result in significant brain injuries with patients on blood thinners…”
In the trauma unit at United Regional, protocols on injuries such as these have been boosted to help treat more patients who are taking blood thinners, as quick and effective as possible.
“We’ve now instituted a process that if we have a patient who’s older than 65 on blood thinners and they fall, then we partially activities our trauma team so that we get them evaluated quickly,” said Dr. May, “…again they can have internal bleeding and not really have any symptoms, so those patients will undergo a very rapid CT scan and a neurological evaluation.”
Blood thinners are also not limited to older adults.
“I’ve actually been on a blood thinner,” said Dr. May. “I’ve had surgery and developed a small blot clot so they put me on a blood thinner for about three months.”
Even though blood thinners come with excessive bleeding, they save lives. Dr. May encourages patients to keep a list of medications with you, review those medications regularly with a doctor, and if you’re younger make sure you need to stay on that medication.
Dr. May says patients who come in that have suffered trauma and are still on a blood thinner, but didn’t need to stay on the blood thinner, complicated their injury and hospital care.
For more information on what to do in emergency situation and the trauma center at United Regional, click here