“Self prescription can be dangerous”
Having said that, the duration of anticoagulation depends on the severity of the disease (coronavirus infection) and patients’ pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease, brain stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease etc. “You must always consult a doctor before taking anticoagulants. Do not take anticoagulants indiscriminately without a prescription from a specialist doctor such as infectious disease specialist or pulmonologist or medical specialist etc,” adds Dr Panda.
Talking about the role of blood thinners, Dr Atul Limaye, Interventional Cardiologist, Fortis Hospital Mulund says, “Ideally, blood thinners are anti-platelet agents. Their role is to prevent blood clotting on the rough surface of the blood vessel (atherogenic plaque). This medicine is used widely in cardiac and diabetic patients who are proven to develop clots. In COVID-19, the Thromboembolism Phenomena (blood clotting) is very high, and many patients present with a Heart Attack, Paralytic Attack/ Stroke, and so on. Therefore, in order to prevent these, we are using blood thinner medications.”
He warns against self-prescription of blood thinners, calling it ‘dangerous’. “In COVID19 we are using a combination of anti-platelet and anti-clotting agents, but there is a specific duration that depends on the blood report like D-Dimer and Fibrinogen. Many people have some abnormalities in their clotting mechanism, and without looking into that if they consume these medicines, they will land up with a bleeding function at some point. In short, it should be taken into consideration only after talking to a health expert,” adds Dr Limaye.
Many doctors feel that blood thinners are prescribed more than they are needed. Blood thinners need to be given at a certain phase of the COVID infection or during the recovery phase when the risk of blood clot formation is high. “You have to remember that in 70 to 80 % patients do not have symptoms and out of them many just have this virus in the body with absolutely no reaction from the body to the virus. Such patients may not need any blood thinners, but that has to be always checked by the treating doctor and doing certain tests to identify inflammation.”
Who needs blood thinners?
According to Dr Panda, people who are already on blood thinners for pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease, heart valve disease or stroke must continue taking blood thinners during the COVID treatment and post COVID.
People who have inflammatory markers that predispose them to a higher risk of blood clot formation should take blood thinners. A doctor’s prescribed tests will determine this. “If a person’s all the inflammatory markers are normal, he/she doesn’t have symptoms and doesn’t have any pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease etc, then in such a scenario blood thinners are not required. However, always consult your doctor for accurate treatment,” adds Dr Panda.