How to Thin Blood

Three Methods:Using Prescription MedicationUsing Other MethodsSeeking Medical Help

If you have had a blood clot, stroke, abnormal heart rhythm, or heart attack, you will likely have to take a blood thinner your doctor prescribes. Ongoing thinning of the blood helps prevent these conditions from reoccurring. Through the help of medicine, lifestyle changes, and help from your doctor, you can thin your blood and help keep yourself healthier.

Method 1
Using Prescription Medication

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    Take coumarin-based medications. If you have suffered from any condition or ailment that requires a blood thinner, your doctor will likely prescribe you an anticoagulants, which are medications that target clotting factors. Your doctor may prescribe you a coumarin-based medication, such as coumadin or warfarin. These work to reduce the formation of vitamin K dependent clotting factors in the blood. It is generally taken by mouth once a day, at the same time every day, with or without food.
    • General side effects include gas, abdominal pain, and some hair loss.[1]
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    Recognize warfarin side effects. If you are on warfarin therapy, you need to be monitored very closely because warfarin is known to cause internal bleeding. You will need weekly blood tests and your dosages will be adjusted based on your results.
    • Warfarin also has many drug interactions and it is important to tell your doctor about every supplement, vitamin, or medication you are taking. It is also important to keep your diet consistent when taking warfarin because increased levels of vitamin K can affect your warfarin therapy and cause clots.
    • When on warfarin, avoid vitamin K rich foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, spinach, green beans, green tea, liver, and some cheeses. Talk to your healthcare professional about your diet with warfarin.[2]
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    Try other blood thinners. Your doctor may prescribe you different oral anticoagulants that are gaining popularity. The advantage with these is that you do not need weekly monitoring and vitamin K intake does not affect their effectiveness. However, some practitioners do not prefer them because they are hard to monitor and if bleeding does occur, unlike warfarin, there is no opportunity for vitamin K reversal.
    • Your doctor may prescribe Pradaxa, which is usually taken by mouth, with or without food, twice a day. Major side effects of Pradaxa include gastrointestinal symptoms such as upset stomach and nausea. Other serious side effects may include hemorrhage, or allergic reaction.[3]
    • You may also be prescribed Xarelto. Depending on your particular circumstance, you may be instructed to take this once or twice a day by mouth with food. Side effects of Xarelto include allergic reaction to the medication, bleeding or throwing up blood, dizziness, burning, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, confusion, and headache.[4]
    • Your doctor may also suggest Eliquis, which is usually taken twice a day by mouth, with or without food. Caution should be taken if you notice an allergic reaction, signs of bleeding, dizziness, confusion, headache, joint pain or swelling, chest pain, or wheezing.[5]

Method 2
Using Other Methods

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    Take baby aspirin. If you have had a heart attack or stroke, or have certain risk factors, your doctor may recommend a daily, 81mg tablet of aspirin. Aspirin thins your blood by preventing blood cells from sticking together, thus decreasing the risk of clots.[6] Be aware, though, that aspirin introduces additional bleeding risks such as a hemorrhagic stroke and GI bleeding.
    • If you have had stomach ulcers, GI bleeding, or are allergic to aspirin, let your doctor know. If you are taking regularly scheduled NSAIDS such as ibuprofen, you may also increase your chances of bleeding. Let your doctor know before starting an aspirin regimen.
    • Aspirin may interact with other medications such as heparin, ibuprofen, Plavix, corticosteroids, and antidepressants as well as herbal supplements such as ginkgo, kava, and cat’s claw.[7]
    • Let your doctor know all vitamins, supplements, and medications you are currently on.
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    Incorporate more exercise. Exercise is very important in reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke. Although you cannot undo what damage has been done, you can prevent further complications if you include exercise along with your medication.[8] It is recommended that you exercise 150 minutes a week, which is generally broken up into 30 minutes a day of moderate aerobic activity such as brisk walking.[9]
    • Try to avoid exercise that might cause serious injury, complications, or internal bleeding. Ask your doctor what activities are best given your personal history and the medication you are taking.
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    Change your diet. Changing your diet can help to prevent further heart problems. Changing your diet can also enhance the effects of your medication to keep your blood thinner and healthier.
    • Control your portion sizes by using smaller plates and keeping track of how much food you eat at each meal.
    • Eat more fruits and vegetables, which are full of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants.
    • Try eating whole grains instead of white flour.
    • Include good fats, such as nuts and oily fish like tuna or salmon.
    • Include lean protein in your diet, such as egg whites, low-fat dairy, and skinless white meat chicken.
    • Eat foods that are low in saturated fat. The foods you eat should have less than 7% of their total calories from saturated fat. You should also avoid trans fats, which should be less than 1% of the foods total calories.
    • Avoid oily, salty, or greasy food, fast food, and frozen, prepackaged food. Even frozen meals that claim to be healthy contain a lot of salt. Also avoid pies, frozen waffles, and muffins.[10]
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    Drink more water. Water is a great natural blood thinner. Dehydration makes your blood thicker, which causes clumps that turn to clots. Drink more water each day to help thin your blood and keep yourself healthier overall.
    • Some doctors suggest drinking around 64 ounces of water every day. Other doctors use the formula that, for every pound you weigh, you need to drink half an ounce of water. For example, if you weight 140 pounds, you should drink 70 ounces of water a day.[11]
    • Don't over-hydrate yourself. Make sure you have plenty of water, but if you feel too full, do not force yourself to drink more water.

Method 3
Seeking Medical Help

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    Talk to your doctor. Conditions such as blood clots, pulmonary embolisms, heart attacks, atrial fibrillation, and strokes are life threatening and serious. If they are not treated properly, you are at risk for recurrence. These conditions require regular check ups and care from a doctor. Under your doctor's care, you may be prescribed a medication to help with thinning your blood as well as a special diet.
    • Although certain foods may help thicken or thin your blood, do not attempt to use foods or diet to thin your blood.
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    Do not attempt to self-treat. If you are at high risk or have had heart issues or stroke, do not attempt to thin your blood by yourself. Diet and other home remedies alone will not prevent clots or heart attacks. Diet and exercise will only help prevent heart disease early on. Once you have heart disease or have had an episode where your blood needs to be thinned, diet and exercise will not be enough to prevent a stroke or heart attack.
    • Always follow your doctor's advice on diet and medication.
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    Look for signs of bleeding. If you are currently on an anticoagulant, call your doctor or get medical help right away if you develop any signs or symptoms of significant amount of bleeding. These can also be symptoms of internal bleeding, hemorrhage, or other hidden bleeding.
    • Seek medical attention immediately if you experience unusual bleeding. These instances include nosebleeds that happen repeatedly, unusual bleeding from your gums, and menstrual or vaginal bleeding that is heavier than normal.
    • If you get injured or experience bleeding that is severe and uncontrollable, get emergency care right away.
    • You should seek immediate medical help if you show signs of internal bleeding, such as red, pink, or brown urine; bright red, red streaked, or black, tar-like stools; coughing up blood or blood clots; vomiting blood or your vomit looks granular like “coffee grounds; headaches; or feeling dizzy, faint or weak.[12][13]


  • Always follow your doctor's orders for any form of prescription drugs, dietary restrictions or medicinal intervention.
  • Do not take any herbal supplement without the approval of your doctor. Currently, there are no herbal supplements that can effectively thin your blood. If you are taking any supplements for other conditions, always let your doctor know. The supplements can interfere with your blood thinner medication and cause severe issues.

Article Info

Categories: Cardiovascular Health and Blood Pressure