There is a popular misconception about medicines preventing heart diseases that they make the blood thin. There is no thick blood or thin blood, nor do blood thinners change the blood’s flow properties. But how do the drugs called blood thinners protect against heart attacks and strokes?
The term blood thinner is not quite correct because these drugs neither have the task of diluting the blood nor improving the flow properties. To understand this better, we have to understand the blood makeup and its properties.
What is blood made up of?
To understand how the drugs work, you have to take a closer look at the blood. Fifty-five percent of the blood consists of so-called blood plasma, which is composed of water, blood salts, and proteins. The other forty-five percent is made up of red and white blood cells and platelets. Blood makes up about 7 to 8 percent of the body weight.
How do blood thinners work?
Blood thinners prevent the platelets from sticking together, clumping together on the artery wall, and, in the worst case, closing the blood vessel. Anticoagulation is about preventing clots from forming in the blood. The drugs do not thin the blood but reduce the ability to clot. The blood thinning agents are based on the blood plasma and the protein substances it contains.
Blood thinner for arteriosclerosis
When and which medication is used, depends on the patient’s clinical condition. Often the two treatments even interlock. Platelet inhibitors, including aspirin with the active ingredient acetylsalicylic acid, are mainly prescribed for patients with arteriosclerosis which is the medical term for calcified blood vessels. With them, deposits of fat and lime have already formed on the walls of the arteries. It is basically plaque in the blood vessels.
The platelet inhibitors prevent the arteries from closing up because of the coagulating adherent platelets. This reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke. In patients who have already had a heart attack, therapy with aspirin can greatly reduce the risk of another attack.
Blood thinners prevent thrombosis
Anticoagulants are administered to reduce the risk of thrombosis in heart patients. It is important if the patient can only move little or not at all after an operation. In addition, patients with atrial fibrillation are often prescribed anticoagulants. Otherwise, a clot forms due to the irregular heart rhythm and can be flushed into the head. As a consequence, the patient suffers a stroke.
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The blood thinners therefore do not reduce the consistency or density of the blood but create a low resistance blood flow to stop coagulation. There are natural supplements that also act as blood thinners like turmeric, ginger, garlic and many others. If these natural ingredients are a part of your daily diet, you are at a lower risk of blood coagulation and hence, heart diseases.