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Taking blood thinners after joint replacement surgery is a crucial aspect of the recovery process. In this blog post, we will discuss the various types of blood thinners that may be prescribed after joint replacement surgery, the reasons why they are prescribed, and the potential side effects.

  • Blood thinners after joint replacement surgery: After joint replacement surgery, it's common for patients to be prescribed blood thinners, also known as anticoagulants, to prevent blood clots from forming in the legs or lungs. The most common blood thinners prescribed after joint replacement surgery are aspirin, apixaban (Eliquis), rivaroxaban (Xarelto) and dabigatran (Pradaxa), warfarin (Coumadin), heparin (lovenox).
  • Why are blood thinners prescribed? After joint replacement surgery, blood thinners are prescribed to prevent blood clots from forming in the leg veins, also called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). They can form due to decreased activity in the first few weeks after surgery. The blood can pool in your legs and form a clot. These clots can be dangerous if they break loose and travel to the lungs, causing a potentially life-threatening condition known as a pulmonary embolism.
  • Potential side effects: Blood thinners can have potential side effects, such as bleeding or easy bruising, especially if you take other medications that also increase the risk of bleeding. It's important to closely monitor any changes in your blood levels and to report any unusual bleeding or bruising to your healthcare provider. If you have a history of bleeding disorders, you may not be a suitable candidate for blood thinners. It's also important to inform your surgeon and primary care physician of any other medications you are taking, as some drugs can interact with blood thinners.
  • Monitoring: Certain blood thinners require close monitoring by your healthcare provider. Blood tests will be done to measure the level of the blood thinner in your blood and to adjust the dosage as needed.
  • Diet and medications: Blood thinners can interact with certain foods/supplements, such as turmeric, vitamin K-rich foods, and certain medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It's important to inform your healthcare provider of all medications and supplements you are taking and to follow a consistent diet.

Taking blood thinners after joint replacement surgery is a crucial aspect of the recovery process. Blood thinners help to prevent clots from occurring. Certain medical conditions increase your risk of blood clots including atrial fibrillation (afib), certain clotting disorders, prior history of stroke/TIA. One of the biggest risk factors for blood clots is a previous history of a blood clot. I typically prescribe all my patients a low dose aspirin to be taken twice a day. If a patient has a history of a prior blood clot, then I prescribe them Eliquis or Xarelto (depending on what they have taken prior). Other patients are already on a blood thinner (if they have afib, cardiac stents). I typically have them speak with their PCP/cardiologist to stop their daily blood thinner (such as plavix) for 3-5 days before surgery. I have then have patients resume their daily blood thinner the day after surgery. It’s vital to let your surgeon know of any blood thinners you may be taking, and to also inform them if you have a previous history of a blood clot/pulmonary embolism.