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    Anticoagulants for Heart Attack and Unstable Angina

    Anticoagulants for Heart Attack and Unstable Angina

    Examples

    Unfractionated heparin

    Generic Name Brand Name
    heparin Heparin

    Low-molecular-weight heparins

    Generic Name Brand Name
    dalteparin Fragmin
    enoxaparin Lovenox
    tinzaparin Innohep

    Direct thrombin inhibitors

    Generic Name Brand Name
    bivalirudin Angiomax
    fondaparinux Arixtra

    How It Works

    Anticoagulants are often called "blood thinners," although they don't really thin blood. They decrease the blood's ability to clot.

    Why It Is Used

    Anticoagulants are given in the hospital during unstable angina or a heart attack , because they can prevent clots from becoming larger and blocking coronary arteries. They are often given with other anticlotting medicines to help prevent or reduce heart muscle damage.

    How Well It Works

    Anticoagulants can help prevent another heart attack and lower the risk of dying soon after a heart attack. 1

    Side Effects

    Anticoagulants for a heart attack are given in the hospital. So a person is watched closely for any side effects.

    The most common side effect is bleeding inside the body.

    See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

    What To Think About

    Anticoagulants might be used after a person goes home from the hospital after a heart attack. These medicines can lower the risk of another heart attack, and they can lower the risk of stroke. For this long-term use, another type of anticoagulant, such as warfarin, is typically used.

    When you take anticoagulants at home, you need to take extra steps to avoid bleeding problems. If you take warfarin, see:

    Click here to view an Actionset. Warfarin: Taking Your Medicine Safely.

    Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

    References

    Citations

    1. O'Connor RE, et al. (2010). Acute coronary syndromes: 2010 American Heart Association guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care. Circulation, 122(18): S787?S817.

    Credits

    By Healthwise Staff
    Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
    Specialist Medical Reviewer Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
    Last Revised February 13, 2013

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