Anticoagulant risks are manageable

A doctor in a white coat with a blue stethoscope smiles and chats with a patient.

Jan. 3, 2019—Oral anticoagulants, or blood thinners taken as pills, are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. Most often, they're given to people with cardiac issues. Those include heart disease, artificial heart valves or irregular heartbeats. But blood thinners have one significant side effect: Up to 1.5 percent of people who take them experience serious intestinal bleeding.

The good news? A new study, published in the journal JAMA, has found that using proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) alongside blood thinners can greatly reduce this risk. PPIs are drugs that help reduce stomach acid. Common PPIs include Nexium and Prilosec.

If you take blood thinners, ask your doctor if taking a PPI too is right for you. And make sure you know how to take them safely.

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