Coumadin (warfarin) is a medication belonging to the anticoagulant class of drugs. It is used primarily for the prevention and treatment of blood clots. It differs from the majority of anticoagulants in that it does not actually effect the viscosity of the blood. Instead Coumadin disrupts the production of proteins and other enzymes which play an important role in blood clotting within the body. It does this by causing the disruption of the vitamin K mechanisms which lead to the production of ineffective versions of these enzymes and proteins. This results in blood that cannot clot as easily which thereby prevents and treats blood clots. Due to its complex mechanism of action dosing of Coumadin is incredibly variable as it can react differently depending on the factors which are present in the patient being given the Coumadin.
Coumadin (warfarin) dosage
Since the effects of Coumadin can be greatly intensified or weakened by other medications present in your body or even by the ingredients of certain foods it is hard to determine the correct dosage. Usually, when starting on Coumadin treatment the doctor will monitor you very closely and adjust the amounts of Coumadin given to you based upon blood tests. Based upon a variety of factors the doctors will predetermine what levels they are looking for in your blood tests. One of the most difficult tasks of Coumadin treatment is determining the initial starting dose.
Doctors have come up with a variety of algorithms based upon many personal factors which helps them determine the correct starting dosage. Once the doctor has determined what maintenance dosage you will be taking based off of the starting dose received and how you reacted to it you will be prescribed that dosage to take. In order for this to be effective it is recommended to keep the levels of Vitamin K steady in your diet. Vitamin K is found in a variety of vegetables and is the leading culprit in interfering with Coumadin treatment. Since your Coumadin maintenance dose was determined based upon the amounts of Vitamin K normally in your diet changing your diet could have drastic effects on how Coumadin effects you.
Coumadin (warfarin) overdose
An overdose of Coumadin can be fatal if a large enough amount is ingested. The symptoms of a Coumadin overdose can differ depending upon how much is ingested. Generally overdoses of Coumadin happen by accident and there have been few reports of purposeful overdoses. One sign of an overdose is bruises that appear out of nowhere. This is due to blood collecting underneath the skin. Blood in the stools or vomiting up blood are also symptoms of a Coumadin overdose. In extreme cases of a Coumadin overdose the patient may experience a brain hemorrhage. This may result in dizziness or changes in vision. If any of these side effects are experienced medical attention should be sought immediately.
Coumadin (warfarin) overdose treatment
The treatment of Coumadin overdose can be complicated depending on how much Coumadin was ingested or other medications the overdose victim is on. The main course of treatment is to administer vitamin K as this has been shown to halt the action of Coumadin. The patient may also be given fluids to help towards replenishing any amounts of blood that is lost.