After surviving a rare coronary artery dissection and massive heart attack while nine months pregnant, Nefertari has devoted her life to uplifting other heart patients and promoting heart health awareness.See all posts »
Keeping the Blood Flowing
Dealing with a chronic disease is difficult enough. It's even harder when you have to purchase and then take multiple medications.
When I was first diagnosed with heart disease, it was gently explained to me that I would have to be on certain medicines for the rest of my life. It wasn't shocking news. I was actually happy to have the medications -- knowing that they could help to manage my condition was comforting.
I was told to come back within two days to have my warfarin levels tested. I agreed, even though I had no idea what that really meant. I came back, just as my doctor instructed and was given a laundry list of foods that I could and could not eat along with other instructions.
As the clinician was explaining the risks and importance of this particular drug, I finally got curious enough to ask, "What is this drug, and why are there so many precautions?"
Apparently, warfarin is a blood thinner -- crucial to some of us who are at risk of a blood clots or stroke.
This drug thins the blood allowing sufficient blood to pass through the arteries. When the blood is thin it is less likely to clot. You want to avoid clots because they can lead to blockages, which can stop blood flow to the heart (a heart attack), or to the brain (a stroke).
So the drug is very important, but if not taken properly it , like most drugs, has the potential to be dangerous. Because of this potential danger I must be monitored often to be sure that the levels of medication in my blood are just right at all times. Too much of the medicine can cause extensive bleeding. Too little can cause the blood to clot, which takes us back to the previous paragraph.
Monitoring was becoming a bit of an issue for me. I had to first remember and then actually go to the lab and get the blood work done. But then I found a short cut -- apparently, most doctors' offices will allow me to come in a few times per month and have my finger stuck instead of the typical blood test. The nurse can give me my numbers right there on the spot and instruct as to how much or how little of the medicine I need to take.
This makes life so much easier. I no longer have to drive out of town to a lab and wait hours for the test and then a day for the results. Now my levels are monitored near home and I feel safe and confident that the medicine is working for me and may help to prevent another heart attack.
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