We’ve posted a new FAQ and answer under Drug Therapies and Medicines in our section:
Are Anticoagulants and blood thinners the same thing? How do they thin the blood? Blood clots are usually good, such as when you get a scrape or cut.
Blood clots are usually good, such as when you get a scrape or cut.
Since A-Fib increases your risk of clots and stroke, blood thinners are prescribed to prevent or break up blood clots in your heart and blood vessels and thereby reduce your chance of an A-Fib-related stroke.
Although referred to as “blood thinners”, they don’t actually affect the “thickness” of your blood.
There are two main types: anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents. They work differently to accomplish the same end effect.
Anticoagulants work chemically to lengthen the time it takes to form a blood clot.
Common anticoagulants include warfarin (Coumadin), Heparin and the NOACs such as apixaban (Eliquis).
Antiplatelets prevent blood cells (platelets) from clumping together to form a clot.
Common antiplatelet medications include aspirin, ticlopidine (Ticlid) and clopidogrel (Plavix) .
Final answer: Yes, an anticoagulant is a blood thinner, but not all blood thinners are anticoagulants.
Note: To read about ‘clot buster’ drugs or treatments that could save you from a debilitating stroke, see my article: Your Nearest ‘Certified Stroke Center’ Could Save Your Life.