Living well with warfarin: National Stroke Week
9 September 2013
During National Stroke Week (9–15 September), NPS MedicineWise is reminding people who take warfarin about ways to help them take it safely.
Warfarin has been the mainstay of anticoagulant therapy to prevent stroke for more than 50 years, and many thousands of Australians take the medicine every day. But NPS MedicineWise clinical adviser Dr Philippa Binns says that like all medicines, warfarin and other anticoagulants have risks and benefits.
“Warfarin has been around for a long time, and it’s a very commonly prescribed medicine for people who need to prevent harmful blood clots that could cause stroke,” she says.
“If you are taking warfarin, it’s important to take it at the same time every day, to stick to the same brand and to have INR blood tests as often as your doctor recommends. It’s also important to know that warfarin can interact with many other medicines and some foods and drinks. While some people may find this takes some adjusting to, the most important thing to remember is that taking warfarin properly greatly decreases your chance of having a potentially life-altering or fatal stroke.”
NPS MedicineWise has produced the Warfarin Dose Tracker, a passport-sized card that helps people taking warfarin keep track of their INR test results, record any changes to their daily warfarin dose and be reminded when their next INR test is due.
“Anyone taking warfarin can use our new free Warfarin Dose Tracker to write down their target INR and brand of warfarin, record their INR results and keep track of their daily warfarin dose, to help them live safely and be medicinewise while taking it,” says Dr Binns.
NPS MedicineWise research with people taking warfarin found that while most of them received comprehensive information about the medicine when they were first prescribed warfarin, most of them felt overwhelmed at that time and couldn’t take all of the information in.
“The research participants said that they would appreciate a summary resource to serve as a reminder about the most important aspects of taking warfarin,” says Dr Binns.
“We identified the need for an information resource to address knowledge gaps about certain aspects of living with warfarin. Our research also showed that most people don’t record their INR results, which is an important part of being medicinewise with warfarin.”
The Warfarin Dose Tracker card is designed to be durable and small enough for people to carry to medical appointments or on holidays, to keep with their tablets or near the phone, and useful in case of an emergency.
Copies can be ordered free from the NPS MedicineWise website at www.nps.org.au/warfarin-dose-tracker
NPS MedicineWise has also produced a new Living with warfarin fact sheet that addresses knowledge gaps identified in the research to help people life safely on warfarin. It is available to download from www.nps.org.au/warfarin-fact-sheet
The new Warfarin Dose Tracker and Living with warfarin fact sheet join a suite of free resources designed to help people live safely and well on warfarin. This includes more comprehensive information that can be found in our online warfarin knowledge hub at www.nps.org.au/warfarin
Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS MedicineWise enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests. We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.
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