Side Effects Of Blood Thinners In Elderly People: Understand The Adverse Effects

As we grow old, we come closer to our childhood. However, there is a difference. We have all our experiences to carry through and our body is weak even when we want to. This makes us prone to diseases and allergies which are difficult to keep track of at many times.

In some weird scenarios, one could be allergic to things that would be saving our lives and in such situations what could we do? This article will include the side effects of blood thinners on the elderly population specifically. It will also briefly look into the possibilities of preventing some.

Major blood thinners

Blood Thinners Side Effects In Elderly People

Before we get into the side effects, we will be looking into some of the major coagulants including-

  • Warfarin – To prevent bleeding complications, Warfarin has been used in various situations for a long time.
  • Direct oral Anticoagulants – UUnlikethe former, these are fairly new and don’t require constant monitoring.
  • Heparin – This is used in hospitals to prevent blood clots and is usually for immediate use.
  • Low molecular weight heparin – This is also a kind of Heparin used in an immediate setting that can prevent clotting after surgery.

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What are blood thinners? What are they used for?

Blood thinners do exactly what they sound like. They are used to thin out blood when you have a disease that can throw clots now and then. Mostly when a clot shows up, it can be life-threatening and can even lead to death if left untreated or untraced. It is commonly used to treat-

Prevent blood clots

Its usage as a deterrent to clots makes it essential for a large group of people suffering from a lot of diseases. Individuals with Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism are often prescribed anti-coagulants to prevent sudden clots.

Atrial fibrillation

Some people are known to have an irregular heart and in this case, they need to have blood thinners. This is because irregular heartbeat can lead to clotting.

Heart valve replacement

Those on heart valve replacement are also prescribed blood thinners to prevent the valve from malfunctioning.

Certain heart conditions

Many heart patients warrant the usage of anti-coagulants in a bout to protect their body from forming unnecessary clots now and then.


Patients are also put on blood thinners as a precautionary measure when they undergo certain surgeries or conditions.

    Side effects of blood thinners in elderly people

    As you might have observed, blood thinners are given in chronic situations and are used for the elderly as they are prone to these conditions. So let’s delve into its effects on the elderly.

    Increased risk of bleeding

    This is regarded to be a common side effect of blood thinners. Since blood thinners are given to prevent its coagulant feature, a cut or scar will not stop bleeding as it should. Internal bleeding could also happen and since there is no way to stop it, the implications could be deeper.

    Bruisning and hematomas

    elderly individuals have delicate organs and muscles and in some cases, they could have blood collected inside the pocket of their skin known as hematomas. Usually, it should go away but the bruising stays for longer periods when the person is above a certain age.

    Gastrointestinal issues

    Another issue associated with blood thinners includes gastrointestinal issues. Our gastric tract is very delicate so when blood thinners are injected into the body, they start irritating the lining of the stomach. This could cause nausea and headaches in some individuals. Additional gastric bleeding is also seen.

    Interactions with other medications

    The elderly usually suffer from a slew of diseases, unlike the young. They could be eating a variety of medications which could be life-sustaining at times. When this happens, blood thinners could be problematic since the intermingling of the two could lead to a new set of problems.

    Bone health

    The Elderly also complain of having increased cases of bone brittleness as they are on blood thinners. The reason for the same is still ambiguous yet doctors are known to consider this as a threat when it comes to the aged.

    Kidney function

    Kidneys filter the blood and help circulate it in the body. Therefore having blood thinners in your system can upset its workings and lead to it malfunctioning. Moreover, kidneys could often release out of the medication thinking it to be a toxin which could lead to other problems.

    Cognitive impairment

    Though this requires more clarification, researchers opine that elderly individuals on blood thinners tend to be at more risk of developing diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s. The cause is not known but is believed to be circling the release of neurotransmitters.

    Regular Monitoring

    For any other unknown complication. The elderly must be in constant care and could even require round-the-clock attention. Those who are bedrested might require even more help as they cannot communicate any bruising or communication if needed.

    It is important to avoid these complications by giving them proper treatments and studying their charts. The elderly could also be given these in a hospital setting rather than an informal one to help dissipate the situation if one arises.

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    Blood thinners are essential medicines in the case of the elderly who are frequently affected by cardiovascular issues. But it is also crucial that we know the right kind of medication to be given. One with complications can be avoided mostly and one without them could be given instead. Moreover, if they are bedridden the care and vigilance should be multiplied, and at no point should our attention get diverted.

    Specialists and doctors should take the onus of administering the medicines and explain the complications to the elderly as well so that they can know when to call for help. Additionally, no medicines should be prescribed if it is known to cause complications and has been found to have a side effect before. The bleeding in some cases can spiral out of control and even cause death. Caution must be kept in each step and there is no room for error.

    Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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