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An anticoagulant is a chemical that helps prevent blood clots. When a blood clot forms, it can block the flow of blood to vital organs and tissues, potentially causing serious health problems. Anticoagulants work by keeping the blood from clotting.

There are several different types of anticoagulants, including aspirin, heparin, and warfarin (Coumadin). Aspirin is a common over-the-counter medication that can help prevent blood clots. Heparin is a stronger anticoagulant that is often used in hospitals to prevent clotting in patients who are at risk for developing deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. Warfarin (Coumadin) is another type of anticoagulant that is taken orally and works by interfering with the way the body uses vitamin K to make clotting factors.

Anticoagulants are generally safe and effective medications, but they do have some potential side effects. The most common side effect of anticoagulants is bleeding. When taking an anticoagulant, it is important to monitor for signs of bleeding, such as easy bruising or bloody stools. If you experience any of these side effects, be sure to contact your doctor right away.

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